What is the Chronovisor?

Project Origins

The Chronovisor is an internet archeology project I’ve dreamed of pursuing since before I took ownership of TTI in 2014. Through the years, I’ve tried many different approaches, and with the new platform, I’m finally able to begin realizing that vision.

I became involved in internet forums in the late 90s, and my first real experience was on a site called Blackout.com in the early 2000s. Blackout was an internet entertainer, a proto-creator who made prank phone calls in different voices. He broadcast a very late-night show via RealPlayer and ran a forum for his listeners. And it was absolutely hilarious.

Following that, I eventually found myself at Time Travel Forum, which started me down the path of running my own communities, such as Hoytroid, TheHeggy, Paranormal Network, Paranormalis Curious Cosmos, and eventually the Time Travel Institute.

These were the early days of the internet, when it was still the Wild West. The social media of the time were early forums and bulletin board systems. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, no centralized “big tech” where there’s a major player for every niche. Communities were as diverse as they could be because it took a special kind of person to start one in the first place, and then others had to find their way through early cyberspace to seek out those communities. The end result is what I consider the “Golden Age of the Internet.”

The internet has changed since then. Now, anybody can create a Facebook group, grow a Twitter following, or become an Instagram star. That’s leveled the playing field dramatically, but it’s also taken something away that can’t quite be articulated. The internet has much less “magic” these days, and I find myself nostalgic for the melodic tone of my dial-up modem and the “you’ve got mail” sound byte.

As the internet has evolved (for better or worse), those early communities have slowly wasted away, leaving very little behind for us to remember them by. We have the Wayback Machine, of course… But that only gets you so far. Browsing these early boards requires monk-like patience, as you battle session IDs that make fluent browsing impossible, clicking and thrashing your way around in the hopes of accidentally finding what you’re looking for.

If that weren’t enough, the Wayback Machine is far from a perfect archival mechanism.

If you were online in the early 2000s, you likely remember visiting forums hosted on ezboard.com, and invisionfree.com, free BBS providers that many communities started on.

Time Travel Hotel, the precursor to Time Travel Forum (which eventually became Paranormalis) used InvisionFree, but was shut down by Gavin (the original owner) shortly after Time Travel Forum began. Tapatalk bought that company in 2018 and absorbed active boards into their product… But
TTH was not one of them, and most of that data is now lost.

Likewise, they also purchased EZboards (known as Yuku by then) years ago and single-handedly destroyed all EZboard archives by asking Archive.org to exclude that domain from their archives (whether by direct communication or an overzealous robots.txt). Very little, if any, of that content remains.

Purpose of the Chronovisor

The Chronovisor is an internet archeology project that aims to mitigate that slow decay and preserve as much of it as possible in its original format. This isn’t just a “scrape the HTML and put it in a folder” endeavor… That’s already possible with some pretty basic tools, and there are plenty of other archivists doing similar things. When it comes to old forums, though, that approach does nothing to revisit the nostalgia and enjoyment of browsing those communities.

Our goal here at TTI is to restore as many of those old fringe communities as possible, making them searchable, browseable and giving present-day viewers the ability to continue the conversation with the benefit of hindsight. It’s time travel!

To get things started, I have chosen a handful of forums I have fond memories of visiting:


Anomalies was once the world’s largest online UFO and paranormal community, and, at one point, home to TTI alums Darby, Pamela, and Einstein. Anomalies was once the world’s largest online UFO and paranormal community, with the goal of either mirroring or downloading the world’s FTP and web archives and placing them into one super archive.


The Art Bell BBS was a short-lived incarnation of Coast to Coast AM’s “Post to Post” forums, during Art Bell’s tenure. The site succeeded Keith Rowland’s Art Bell BBs prior to 2000 (which lived in a subfolder of rowlandnet.com), followed by a final, short-lived iteration, post.coasttocoastam.com. This project will include all three iterations.


Blackout’s Box was the home of Michael Biggins (Blackout), an early internet creator who made prank phone calls, songs, and a variety of other unique performance art. The site was also home to his community of creative avant-garde fans, the first community I ever participated in.


HDRkid’s forums were the most popular place to discuss the hyperdimensional resonator (HDR), which is a radionics-based time machine, and its creator, Stephen Gibbs. The main site is still active, but the community is long gone, with Paranormalis as its successor.


Time Chatter, run by WildStar, focused on time travel systems and equipment. The discussions mostly focused on the HDR and other radionics devices, but they also covered theories and time travel concepts.


Run by MadIce and Jorune, Time Travel Portal was a community heavily into the hard science aspect of time travel. The site had many in-depth resources , and excellent breakdowns of time travel claims, particularly the John Titor story.


Last, but not least, the original Time Travel Institute forums The TTI BBS began as early as 1998 on a service called MessageZone, which shuttered in March 1999. Mop moved all of those messages over to AnyBoard in January 1999 and then converted to UBB.Threads a short time later. The site remained on that platform through 2012, but by then the software was ancient and on its way out. I helped Mop convert to XenForo at that time, but the migration tools at the time did not support attachments. After I took ownership in 2014, we migrated to a number of other platforms over the years looking for “the one” and skewed the formatting of many posts in the process.

With our new platform, I now have the opportunity to remaster everything, from 1999 and up. To restore the original boards (and the names of guest posters) to pristine condition, as if time had stood still. I saved TTI from being shut down because I wanted to preserve one of the few remaining artifacts from that Golden Age, and I made a commitment to become its caretaker. That sentiment was a large part of my motivation to create the Chronovisor in the first place.

I have other projects in mind for the future, but this is plenty to take on for now. We’re in the early days of this project, but what we have now is a great start.

Each Chronovisor thread is attached to this BBS, in that you’ll see a “Start Discussion” link at the bottom of each one. Clicking that will take you to its counterpart here, where you’ll be able to comment on it or continue the conversation (time travel!). All threads are hidden until a post is made, so as not to flood the BBS with empty conversations.

At the top of each thread, you’ll find a View Sources button. This will take you to a page listing the Archive.org sources the content was retrieved from, and give you an easy way to browse the originals. Many threads have more than a few sources, so you’ll eventually be able to locate every permutation of that discussion across the entire Wayback Machine.

Every link posted in a thread is adjusted to try and use the Wayback Machine archive for that site on the date the post was made. For example, if a post mentions USPTO.gove and was made on December 12, 1999, it will link to Patent and Trademark Office Home Page to try and provide as much original context as possible.

Usernames (or handles) are global across the entire Chronovisor, and their profile pages will list every post made using that handle across every project. You can be confident that “hdrkid” on Time Chatter is probably the same person as the one on Anomalies, but there’s no way to know if “Paul” on Time Travel Portal is the same person as on Time Travel Institute. For this reason, we’re not restoring avatars or profile information. We may dive into this in the future, but for now, use your best guess.

For the moment, restoration is a manual process. My hope is that we’ll eventually be able to automate (even halfway), but I prefer the manual aspect for now to wargame different scenarios I encounter to sanity check the approach. I’m working from data I scraped from the Wayback Machine’s CDX API to create a list of every known good URL (ones that return a 200 OK), putting those results into a database, and then using various filters to locate probable thread content.

The problem with automation is that the early internet was a hot mess. Few sources have very reliable markup, and there are many design variations that make creating a baseline scraper infeasible for the moment, but not impossible in the future. If you’re good with programming, I’d welcome your assistance!

Even if you’re not a programmer, you can still contribute. The next steps for the Chronovisor is to implement a way for you to assist with some of the existing projects above, or take on your own project using the Chronovisor as your platform. If you’re interested in helping, or know of another interesting community you’d like to work on restoring, let me know, and I’ll work to get you the access and tools you need.

As we move forward, I will keep this thread updated with the most current information. Feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, or point us at interesting restoration opportunities, though!

The way forward is the way back.



I will be posting the datasheets I’m working with for other to download. There’s still a lot to do for this project to be fully fleshed out, but one step at a time!

Also know that the View Sources data is on a delay, so if you click the button and see no sources, they will be available soon. There’s also a bug with source URLs that end with &amp which will be fixed this week.

(This post reserved for changelogs)