- "Spectacular. You've invented a way to disintegrate candles."
- —Showing skepticism about Doc's prototype time machine.
Colonel Lomax, of the United States Army operating under the auspices of the Department of Defense, sought to find a scientist to invent a time machine.
On October 24, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis had been going on for nearly ten days, and many people thought the world would end that week. Colonel Lomax and the retired Lieutenant General Leslie Groves went to Doc Brown's mansion to offer Emmett Brown a large sum of money to invent a time machine, in order to prevent it from ever happening. Emmett Brown had impressed Leslie Groves during his time working on the Manhattan Project, who felt that Emmett was the most likely person to be able to develop such a device.
Emmett accepted the offer, as he needed funding for his inventions, and showed them his prototype time machine, the temporal field capacitor. It was only useful for sending objects into the future, as sending an object even a few minutes into the past caused a buildup of flux energy. If an object was sent any further back than that, the arrival of the object would overheat the capacitor and start an electrical fire.
Colonel Lomax was skeptical, and noted that they were seeking for a way to travel to the past, not the future. Emmett told them that with the right resources, he would be able to fix the problem in no time. The two men are interested, and Groves informs Emmett that he'll never have to worry about funding again.
After Lomax and Groves left, Emmett had worries that he could be ushering in an arms race through time, coupled with his regrets about ushering in the nuclear arms race of the Cold War through his participation in the Manhattan Project.
The next day, Emmett wrote himself a letter about his plans, and purposefully sent the letter back several months in the past, to August 1, when he knew that he and his dog, Copernicus, would be safe asleep in his fireproof garage.
The Brown family mansion burned down, and on October 24, Lomax and Groves came and left in the new timeline without ever talking to Emmett. They were told by Goldie Wilson, who was there handing out flyers for his campaign for district council representative, that the mansion had burned down months prior and that most people believed that Emmett had done it himself for the insurance money. Groves expressed his disappointment that Emmett Brown had become an insurance thief, and Lomax stated that they should leave, as he was not the type of man that they would want to hire.
Lomax and Groves then went to another scientist, Marcus Irving, letting him believe that he was their first choice for the project. Irving agreed to the project, and spent 24 years working on time travel. He could never solve the problem of excess flux energy, so his time experiments were never a complete success. Finally, in January 1986, government funding for Irving's project ceased.
Irving found out that he was not the first choice, and was jealous of Emmett Brown, for turning them down and for causing him to waste 24 years of his life. While tracking down Doc Brown, Irving discovered that he had built a working DeLorean time machine. He sabotaged Doc's DeLorean and used Doc's design to build a flux capacitor, enabling him to travel through time as well.