Thousands of people answered it.
The ad was a joke.
A man called John Silveira placed it there as a classified filler when asked by the editor of the magazine to fill some gaps. The lines came from his unfinished novel.
Apparently, people who answered it either believed the ad, or thought it was probably a hoax but simply wanted it to be true. Most of them, despite the offer of pay, said they would do it for nothing. Many of the heartrending responses came from people who wanted to go back in time to save a loved one from a tragedy or stop themselves from committing a crime.
What would be your motives in answering an ad like this? Who wouldn't want time travel? What a great premise!
The makers of the 2012 movie Safety not Guaranteed thought so to. This is a great little movie that has somehow made it into Bizarro World. It's the sort of movie that people should be raving about. However, it doesn't appear to be well known at all. On a recent panel on Time Tavel at Continuum in Melbourne, I mentioned it, assuming that in a room of SF fans who are interested in time travel, most would have seen the movie. To my surprise very few had heard of it.
Are too many of us wanting to go back to something in the past?