Writer and producer R Gale conceived the idea after he visited his parents in St. Louis, Missouri after the release of Used Cars. Searching their basement, Bob Gale found his father's high school yearbook and discovered he was president of his graduating class. Gale thought about the president of his own graduating class, who was someone he had nothing to do with. Gale wondered whether he would have been friends with his father if they went to high school together. When he returned to California, he told Robert Zemeckis his new concept. Zemeckis subsequently thought of a mother claiming she never kissed a boy at school, when in reality she was highly promiscuous. The two took the project to Columbia Pictures, and made a development deal for a script in September 1980.