Alternate History

Titor Device (Caroline Era)

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The Titor Device.

The Titor Device is a mysterious artifact found on a burglar some time in 2002. There has been much speculation regarding its origin, function and current location.


At some point in 2002, a man giving his name as John Titor was arrested attempting to steal a computer from the IBM museum. On being searched, a small electronic device was found on his person which appeared to serve a variety of functions, the primary one apparently being voice communication by a radio network. The individual concerned was later interviewed by military intelligence and the incident was hushed up. On being moved to another location in New York State, he managed to escape from the vehicle. A person answering his description was seen a few hours later in the hamlet of Montauk near the Air Force Station, scaling a lighthouse. He fell from the lighthouse, but allegedly disappeared in a flash of blue light before hitting the ground. It is not known if the device was in his possession at the time of the disappearance but the general consensus is that it was not because of information available on its composition and nature.

The incident came to light recently due to a security blunder.


The device is described in "Mr Titor"'s address notes as a "calculator". Although it bore a superficial resemblance to such a device and included that functionality, that does not seem to have been its primary purpose. It was about 7 cm in length, made primarily of plastic and featured a small flat colour display, a piezoelectric speaker and microphone, a numeric keypad, a microwave aerial and some kind of electronic camera. It was found to be able to broadcast signals in the microwave range at low power. There was also some kind of battery in a compartment on the back which was unexpectedly primitive, draining fast, unable to hold much power and based on lithium ion technology. The word "NOKIA" was printed under the screen. Before its incorporation into the Warsaw Pact, there was a company in Finland known as Nokia which used to provide wireless communication devices for the Finnish Defence Forces.

It was also found that the device contained a number of unusual elements not widely available outside currently inaccessible parts of Africa such as tantalum and indium.

On being turned on, the device appeared to contain an advanced digital computer which controlled the display and enabled the user to interact with it via the keypad. However, there was no "switch" as such and the device seemed to be constantly powered up, which was again at odds with the apparent nature of the battery technology. A number of very advanced software applications were available on the device which seemed to load instantly, including a word processor, a program apparently designed to communicate with some kind of radio network and able to send short text strings using mixed upper and lower case characters, a calculator, a means of taking colour photographs and storing them and a mysterious program referred to as a "browser". Using present-day terrestrial technology, the facilities available on the device would have required several supercomputers working in tandem, but it was somehow provided within a handheld artifact.


1. Soviet military technology

It has been speculated, and the fact that the individual concerned was interrogated by the military suggests that the government concurs with this idea, that the device was part of an advanced secret espionage project by the KGB. It contained a camera, a recording device and a receiver and transmitter. The presence of tantalum and indium also suggest that the manufacturer somehow had access to those parts of Africa where the materials concerned were available. However, it appears that there are no sites on that continent where either element is currently being mined. It is also supported by the fact that there was once a company known as Nokia which provided military communications technology

Against this theory is the point that if the Warsaw Pact possessed such technology it would give them a considerable advantage over the West which they clearly lack.

2. Extraterrestrial origin

Since the device contains elements not easily obtained or widely used on this planet and clearly employs technology not present on Earth, it has been suggested that the device and John Titor himself may not be native to this planet. Against this is the human appearance of John Titor and the fact that the device uses the English language, although some have suggested that this is simply a form of cover or that it was manufactured by an alien species but for human use.

3. Time travel

Given the operation of Vannevar's Law, the level of technology implied by the operation of the device's digital circuitry is consistent with it being manufactured at a date approximately 200 million years in the future. Such a time seems so distant that again, it seems unlikely that either humans or the English language would exist at the time. However, this is currently the favourite among many conspiracy theorists on the matter.

4. Parallel universe.

Possibly the most outlandish of all theories concerning the device is that it originates from a parallel timeline where the rate of technological advance is exponential compared to our own. However, John Titor's clothing and features such as the absence of cyborg implants or other kinds of advanced technology, and the inexplicable primitivity of the battery technology, have made this hypothesis unpopular, particularly in the light of the extreme improbability of parallel timelines being real. However, a few people have speculated that it is possible to extrapolate from the Titor Mystery that there is a set of timelines they refer to as the Gordon Timelines with a number of features in common. It would be necessary to commit oneself to quite exotic metaphysics in order for this to work. The posthumously discovered papers of Bertrand Russell have been extended by some workers to suggest that such a notion is intelligible, but this view is generally taken to be part of an alternative pseudo-academic view of philosophy which has no credence to the mainstream.

5. Hoax

Finally, it is often suggested that the Titor Device never existed. It is said to be able to do things which are generally agreed among electronic engineers and computer scientists either to be far too advanced to achieve with any imaginable technology or completely impossible. People who hold to this view sometimes also believe that the hoax was staged by the intelligence services themselves in order to increase fear of the Warsaw Pact.

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