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The IBM 5100

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The stated reason John was here in our time was to obtain the IBM 5100 computer built in 1975 called a 5100. The IBM 5100 does exist and was manufactured and sold by IBM. It is historically remembered as one of the first portable computers ever mass-produced but it arrived before computers were marketed to the public and quickly passed away in the early eighties.

John claimed he was related to one of the IBM engineers or programmers who worked on the 5100 and that’s why he was chosen for this mission. By putting the pieces of his posts together, it appears he journeyed to Rochester Minnesota in 1975 (where the IBM 5100 was created and manufactured), met with his relative who worked on the computer, obtained a 5100 from him and had it altered in some way for use in 2036.

John mentions that the IBM 5100 had some sort of inbuilt ability to translate computer languages that was unknown or unpublished before 2036. The computer would then have been used back in his time to translate or fix broken computer systems.

Based on his explanation, it would appear there must have been an easier way to solve this problem in 2036. If you can travel in time, why go back for a piece of old technology that we find useless? This may seem logical until you realize that even today, NASA scours the Internet looking for old computer parts to keep their systems running.

What may be more interesting is the fact that John had a consistent reason he was willing to discuss for being here at all.

John claimed he was related to one of the IBM engineers or programmers who worked on the IBM 5100 and that’s why he was chosen for this mission. By putting the pieces of his posts together, it appears he journeyed to Rochester Minnesota in 1975 (where the 5100 was created and manufactured), met with his relative who worked on the computer, obtained a 5100 from him and had it altered in some way for use in 2036.

09/14/2004
Secrets of the City
Time traveler most likely to be spotted in Rochester

According to Bob Dubke, the second engineer on IBM’s 5100 team in Rochester (who now co-owns a locally-based company called eXport Ventures Corp. and also works for Edina Realty), that secret function was his contribution to the design of the computer. The function, which IBM suppressed because of worries about how their competition might use it, was an interface between the assembly code surrounding the computer’s ROM exterior, and the 360 emulator hidden beneath it. (IBM declined to comment for this story.) The IBM 5100 emulator gave programmers access to the functions of the monstrous, and much less portable machines, that IBM had produced during the 1960s. An imprint of a hook on the outside of the IBM 5100 symbolized the ability of Dubke’s interface to drop into what Titor called “legacy code,” and scoop out any necessary operating instructions.

12/28/03

Is this the computer fault in the UNIX computer code John warned would effect the world in just a few days and then in 2038?

SOFTWARE GLITCH BRINGS Y2K DEJA VU

Software maker PTC, a specialist in product lifecycle management applications for engineers and product designers, has rekindled memories of the Year 2000 bug, or Y2K, as it scrambles to patch a glitch that will render most of its products inoperable after Jan. 10. Unix itself uses a similar method to resolve dates, but developers chose an infinity value of 4 billion seconds, the maximum a 32-bit system can process. That means that most Unix programs will continue to operate until 2038.

08/16/03

After scanning a few disscussions on other forums, I came across something very interesting. Please read the following text written by John Titor about the IBM 5100 computer.

JOHN:

On my worldline, it is known that the 5100 series is capable of reading all the IBM code written before the widespread use of APL and Basic.

JOHN:

In 2036, it was discovered (or at least known after testing) that the IBM 5100 was capable of reading and changing all of the legacy code written by IBM before the release of that system and still be able to create new code in APL and basic. That is the reason we need it in 2036. However, IBM never published that information because it would have probably destroyed a large part of their business infrastructure in the early 70s. In fact, I would bet the engineers were probably told to keep their mouths shut.

JOHN:

Therefore, if I were not here now telling you this, that information would not be discovered for another 36 years. Yet, I would bet there is someone out there who can do the research and discover I am telling the truth. There must be an old IBM engineer out there someplace that worked on the IBM 5100. They just might not have ever asked if I hadn’t pointed it out.

JOHN:

The 5100 has the ability to easily translate between the old IBM code, APL, BASIC and (with a few tweaks in 1975) UNIX. This may seem insignificant but the fact that the 5100 is portable means I can easily take it back to 2036. I do expect they will create some sort of emulation system to use in multiple locations.

Now consider the following post from a forum on John. The discussion ends with a letter from an apparent IBM engineer who developed the IBM 5100. His response was given after a forum member sent him an email about John’s statements and it appears to confirm what he said! If this is a hoax, could this IBM engineer be John? Or, could this be the person John was sent to find?

“The IBM 5100did not have a true operating system. Any similarity to one was provided by the “keyboard” code. It also provided for some basic debug things and of course it had its share of “hooks” to do other things. There were two emulators provided, a System 34 emulator for the Basic language, and a System 360 emulator for executing the APL interactive language.

One hook that was never documented for external IBM users was one for launching programs, written in the System 360 machine language, from APL. I personally used this hook for manipulating large arrays because it was faster and reduced memory requirements. APL has a habit of creating multiple copies of a variable while manipulating it.

I believe you may be thinking about the 360 emulator.

Sincerely,

Bob Dubke
eXport Ventures Corporation
Rochester, MN 55901

Can you explain what the purpose of time travel is on your worldline?

In 2036, a great deal of effort is going into “repairing” our environment. I was sent to 1975 to get a computer system and take it back to 2036. Time travel is not a secret in 2036 and I expect it will become more common.

Why is time travel used?

Right now, its used to get information or “items” that would be helpful in getting a post WWIII world back to a normal condition. There are 7 other time travelers in my unit.

Where do time travelers go the most?

Right now, most of our practical missions are from 1960 to 1980. There is a great deal of research into later and future periods but the farther you go, the lower the divergence confidence of the worldline.

If you’re here to get a computer, why are you are posting on a message board? I think you’re committing treason!

Why would it be treason?

Why did you go to 1975?

The first “leg” of my trip was from 2036 to 1975. After two VGL checks, the divergence was estimated at about 2.5% (from my 2036). I was “sent” to get an IBM computer system called the IBM 5100. It was one the first portable computers made and it has the ability to read the older IBM programming languages in addition to APL and Basic. We need they system to “debug” various legacy computer programs in 2036. UNIX has a problem in 2038.

On my worldline, it is known that the 5100 series is capable of reading all the IBM code written before the widespread use of APL and Basic. Unfortunately, there are none left that anyone can find on my world line.

Technologies themselves are not lost but some of the older tools and techniques have been lost. I think there is more detailed information about the war posted earlier.

When I leave, I will return to 2036. The computer I have is expected there.

Earlier you said something was wrong with the UNIX computer code on your worldline. What’s wrong with it?

Yes…and with yours too. I have to believe there must be a UNIX expert out there someplace that can confirm that. I’m not exactly sure what the technical issue is but I believe some sort of UNIX system registry stops in 2038.

I have a working IBM 5160 computer. Maybe I should stash it away for thirty years and see what happens.

Toss it. The IBM 5100 is the interesting machine.

As far as evidence goes, I have however decided to try an experiment with you that may be more convincing. It involves the travel of information at faster than light. In fact, I have dropped at least three little gems like this that no one else has picked up on.

everett wheeler
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a complete breakdown of a national, regional or territorial economy

gravity distortion

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divergence confidence #

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HOST

What other gems has he dropped that no one picked up on?)

You said you are confused by the IBM 5100 story. I will explain further. In 2036, it was discovered (or at least known after testing) that the IBM 5100 was capable of reading and changing all of the legacy code written by IBM before the release of that system and still be able to create new code in APL and basic.

That is the reason we need it in 2036. However, IBM never published that information because it would have probably destroyed a large part of their business infrastructure in the early 70s. In fact, I would bet the engineers were probably told to keep their mouth’s shut.

HOST

John claims the 5100 had a technical ability built into it that was unpublished but known by IBM. It would appear this information was kept quiet because it would have affected other business IBM was doing. Is it possible the 5100 was capable of doing something that a much larger or more expensive machine was already doing at a higher cost?)

Therefore, if I were not here now telling you this, that information would not be discovered for another 36 years. Yet, I would bet there is someone out there who can do the research and discover I am telling the truth. There must be an old IBM engineer out there someplace that worked on the IBM 5100. They just might not have ever asked if I hadn’t pointed it out.

HOST

Is there an old IBM engineer out there that could confirm this?)

How big is the IBM 5100?

I would say its about 20″ long, 10″ high and 30″ long.

What do they look for when choosing someone for a mission?

Depending on the mission, time travelers are usually chosen for a particular mission based on their ability to gain the cooperation of someone related to the goal on the target worldline. In my case, my grandfather was directly involved with the building and programming of the 5100.

HOST

How many people built and programmed the IBM 5100 in Rochester Minnesota? John Titor claims to be the grandson of one of them.)

It would seem then that another time traveler that looks like you could arrive on your worldline of origin with another IBM computer and no one would know the difference.

Bingo!! Seems like something they would do a lot of psychological testing for before they sent us off.

As you are probably aware, UNIX will have a timeout error in 2038 and many of the mainframe systems that ran a large part of the infrastructure were based on very old IBM computer code. The 5100 has the ability to easily translate between the old IBM code, APL, BASIC and (with a few tweaks in 1975) UNIX. This may seem insignificant but the fact that the 5100 is portable means I can easily take it back to 2036. I do expect they will create some sort of emulation system to use in multiple locations.

What’s the use of bringing back the computer to a slightly different worldline since you know there are just as many worldlines in which no-one returns to bring back computer?

The 5100 had a very simple and unique feature that IBM did not account for and decided it was not in their best interest to advertise (which in hindsight was not very smart). This accidental feature was thus removed from any future desktop computers. In order to take advantage of this feature, the 5100 I have now required a couple of special “tweaks” that had to be done by one of the software engineers in 1975. Anyone who is familiar with this feature and was told to keep their mouth shut about it will be able to tell you what it is.

The computer is from 1975, Rochester MN.

Based on what I know about the 5100 (IBM computer), it has a few very interesting and worthwhile properties that make it worthwhile for a time traveler to recover. Also, please keep in mind that civilization is recovering from a war. Yes, we do have the technology but many of the tools were lost.

As you are probably aware, UNIX will have a timeout error in 2038 and many of the mainframe systems that ran a large part of the infrastructure were based on very old IBM computer code. The 5100 has the ability to easily translate between the old IBM code, APL, BASIC and (with a few tweaks in 1975) UNIX. This may seem insignificant but the fact that the 5100 is portable means I can easily take it back to 2036. I do expect they will create some sort of emulation system to use in multiple locations.

I do believe that “your” UNIX will also have a problem in 2038. I don’t think that’s a secret but maybe someone should put a 5100 aside for thirty years or so.

HOST

He’s not sure if our UNIX will have a problem? Why would that be? Did something happen that he’s aware of that might have fixed “our” UNIX?)

Yes, EMP took out a great number of electronic devices. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t have reliable technology laying around. However, in the opening hours of N Day, the Russians did not launch any high altitude detonations. They knew we would most likely clean up after them so they wanted everyone outside the cities to be able to communicate. Most of the warheads that hit the cities came in threes and exploded close to the ground. The heavy EMP damage was isolated to those areas.

Why were you selected to be a time traveler?

I am related to a key figure in the development of the IBM 5100.

I find it hard to believe that a software tweak done to a 1975 machine would be enough to justify a time travel mission.

Ah, something we have in common. Yes, I felt that way too. However, my job was to go and get it and not debate why they wanted it. I am not a computer expert.

A great deal of the computer infrastructure you depend on is based on very old systems and code. One of the reasons I was sent to 1975 was because of the person I met there, not the technology.

There are more effective ways to accomplish what you claim in this regard.

Perhaps you would share them with me. You might be right and I could make your suggestions when I return.

Would not the computer from 1975 be bigger than the time machine used to haul it back to 2036?

Not at all. The 5100 series will fit on a tabletop.

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The Complete & Missing Chats from the John Titor internet chat postings, including extras