Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The "John Titor" phenomenon...

Note: this article has now moved to the-john-titor-phenomenon on Cipher Mysteries

I recently mentioned an online Voynich-mentioning novel by Benjamin Kerstein called Josef6 (which you can read here), pointing out various parallels with the Dan Burisch story.

I've since had a nice email from Benjamin, who mentions that he was more directly inspired by a real Internet story, known as the John Titor phenomenon. This concerned someone posting to a time travel website between November 2000 and end-March 2001, claiming to be a time-traveller coming back in time from 2036. There's a well-known Unix date issue in 2038 (not entirely dissimilar to the whole Y2K nonsense), and "Titor" claimed to have come back to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer to debug some code.

But who was this "John Titor"? The punchline here is that an Italian TV documentary ("Voyager - Ai confini della conoscenza") from 19th May 2008 pointed the finger at computer expert John Rick Haber, brother of Larry Haber - the owner of all commercial rights concerning John Titor, and the only person who claims to have confirmed Titor's existence.

Now that's what I call a proper hoax. :-)

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