One of the greatest time travel mysteries of the modern era is that of John Titor, a real-life time traveler who may or may not have existed. His story is one that could have only existed in the early days of the Internet, before everyone could be Googled in a matter of seconds. The story of John Titor may be the greatest hoax ever, but out of various time travel stories, Titor's is eerily realistic - so much so that it makes you question your beliefs about time travel and the multi-verse. Is time travel real? People have been asking that since H.G. Wells published The Time Machine in 1895, but real time travelers, if they exist, rarely make themselves known. That’s why John Titor is such a special case.
The only tangible proof that exists outside of John Titor’s message board posts are time traveler photos. If you’ve never read about the time-hopping mystery of John Titor and his '68 Cadillac, this is the perfect primer to get you ready to fall into the rabbit hole. Titor’s story has twists and turns that rival any John Grisham novel, and once you learn about the man who drove through time to the Gulf Coast, you’ll want to know more about this guy who just wanted to save the world.
Who Is John Titor?
In the early days of the web, an Internet user calling themselves "TimeTravel_0" began posting on the message boards of Coast to Coast AM and the personal website of the show's host, Art Bell. Over the course of multiple posts, TimeTravel_0 revealed he was a freedom fighter from the year 2036 and he was trying to warn people about an oncoming nuclear war and civil war that would break up America into five different sovereign nations. Titor didn't start going by Titor until he began posting on Bell's site, which required a name be attached to each account.
Why Did He Travel Back In Time?
According to Titor, he was sent back in time because he was directly related to someone who could help save the future. The main goal behind his trip was to pick up an IBM 5100. Supposedly, his paternal grandfather was directly involved with the assembly and programming of that specific computer. After taking care of the computer, he stopped by in the year 2000 to collect some family keepsakes (which would be lost in the civil war to come) and to warn people about the threat of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (which would be spread through beef products).
How Does The IBM 5100 Play Into This?
One of the oddest parts about the John Titor story is the part played by the IBM 5100. Why would someone from the future need such an old computer? In 1975, IBM released the 5100 after the world’s first Personal Computer hit the markets. The one thing that 5100 could do that other computers couldn't was debug and emulate code between a variety of programming languages.
According to Titor, this feature would make it an important component in keeping the technological architecture running in the future after the UNIX timeout error in 2038. As you may remember, Titor traveled back from 2036, two years prior to the error. He said he wanted to snag a 5100 and help reverse engineer a code that would keep the world's computers from having a meltdown.
What Kind Of Time Machine Did He Use?
If Titor was indeed a time traveler, what did he use to jump through space? A DeLorean? A TARDIS? Wormhole technology? Not exactly. In one of his early posts, Titor explained that he used a "stationary mass, temporal displacement unit powered by two top-spin, dual positive singularities" which created a "standard off-set Tipler sinusoid."
All of that tech talk was installed in the rear of a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible which was later moved to a 1987 truck because it had four-wheel drive. Titor posted multiple pictures of a manual for the "C204 Time Displacement Unit" with diagrams and schematics, and he even posted some photographs of the timey wimey thing installed in the car. It kind of looks like a bunch of batteries taped together, but that's just super steampunk, so he gets a pass.