Who Was John Titor?

On November 2nd, 2000, Titor’s first posts appeared on the Time Travel Institute forums using the handle TimeTravel_0. The name “John Titor” was not yet being used, and the first posts discussed time travel in general, answered questions, and presented descriptions of what a time machine would need to operate. The Titor posts ended in March 2001.

The “John Titor” name was not introduced until January 2001, when TimeTravel_0 began posting at the Art Bell BBS Forums (which required every account to use a real name).

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John Titor’s Mission

Titor claimed to be an American soldier from 2036, based in Tampa, Florida, sent back to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer needed in 2036 to debug various legacy computer programs (possibly a reference to the UNIX year 2038 problem). Titor said he had been hand-selected for this mission because his paternal grandfather was part of the 5100’s assembly and programming. To support this, he described unpublicized features of the 5100.

He claimed to be on a stopover in 2000 for “personal reasons,” to collect pictures lost in the upcoming civil war and visit his family.

Titor also stated he was trying to alert anyone who would listen about Mad-Cow disease’s threat, the possibility of a civil war within the United States, and called for people to return to simpler living.

Predictions

The bulk of Titor’s predictions surrounded an upcoming civil war in the United States having to do with “order and rights.” He described it as beginning in 2005, with civil unrest during that year’s presidential election and a “Waco-type event every month that steadily gets worse.” By 2008, the war would be “pretty much at everyone’s doorstep.”

As a result of the war, the United States split into five zones based on differing military objectives. According to Titor, the civil war would end in 2015 with a short but intense World War III.

Titor refers to the change as “N Day.” Both Washington, D.C. and Jacksonville, Florida are destroyed, and Omaha, Nebraska, becomes the new U.S. capital. Titor was vague as to the specific motives and circumstances for World War III. but at one point, he characterizes the hostilities as being led by “border clashes and overpopulation.” He also pointed to the present conflicts in the Middle East as a milestone that precedes World War III, not a cause.

Titor alleged that the “Everett–Wheeler model of quantum physics” (or the many-worlds interpretation), is correct and his time travel formed our current timestream. Differences between our reality and Titor’s can be attributed to that theory.

Criticism and Debunking

An Italian television program, Voyager – Ai confini della conoscenza, aired an investigation of John Titor on May 19th, 2008. Investigator Mike Lynch found no registry evidence, past or present, of any individual named John Titor. However, he identified the John Titor Foundation, a for-profit company formed on September 16th, 2003, with no office or address other than a rented post box in Kissimmee, Florida. An IP address connected with Titor was also geolocated to Kissimmee.

In 2009, John Hughston of the Hoax Hunter website named Larry Haber and his brother Richard, a computer scientist, as the likely men behind John Titor. Hughston reports that they originally introduced Titor in 1998, accompanied by totally different predictions, including chaos due to the Y2K “bug.”

In 2018, Joseph Matheny, creator of the alternate reality game Ong’s Hat, said he worked as a consultant for the individuals responsible for the legend. John Titor “is a story created as a literary experiment by people observing what I was doing with Ong’s Hat, and these people wanted to do something like that. I was a consultant on the project, [but] it wasn’t my project.”.

In popular culture

  • In 2004, the John Titor Foundation published a book, John Titor: A Time Traveler’s Tale, discussing his claims; the book is now out of print.
  • 2009 visual novel Steins;Gate was adapted into an anime in 2011, heavily featuring John Titor traveling into the past to prevent an arms race.
  • In an issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, John Titor is listed in the Deadpool’s Guide to Super Villains card set as a pseudonym of Kang the Conqueror.