San Jose Mercury News

San Jose Mercury News (CA)-April 13, 1988
Author: LORI EICKMANN, Mercury News Staff Writer


When you gain notoriety at age 15 for analyzing UFO sightings and claiming evidence that more than one gunman stalked John F. Kennedy -- what do you do for an encore?

Kal Korff, now 25, is working on that. In the past 10 years he has taught English, written a book exposing one UFO encounter as a hoax, worked as a security guard, taken a few college classes, run his own graphic arts company, driven as a courier for a title company and, as of two weeks ago, worked as a computer technician at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Now he's become fixated with computers -- the hypertext concept, specifically -- in a big way.

''My goal is to be a major player in the hypermedia field," said Korff, in reference to a developing field of computer systems in which people can retrieve any information. "I intend to be involved in that."

Oh, yeah, and Korff still is fascinated with UFOs, though only as a hobby these days.

''You've got to make a living," he said, glancing at a pile of UFO books and now-defunct space magazines on the dinette table in his Fremont apartment.

Korff became a local celebrity as a teen-ager when he began lecturing classmates and nearby college classes with photographs and research he had gathered on UFOs. By ninth grade, he already had collected about 1,000 UFO-type photographs from around the world, and regularly corresponded with a network of adults known in the field of "UFOlogists."

His interest in UFOs was aroused in the sixth grade, where Korff, who already was interested in space after receiving a telescope four years before, heard a classmate's report on unidentified flying objects.

Korff began devouring library books on the subject. At first, he believed everything he read, but then he began to question the authenticity of many UFO reports.

So the research began.

Shortly after graduating from Kennedy High School in 1981, Korff had his first book, "Light Yarns: The Billy Meier Hoax," published by Towne Scribe Press of Arizona. By then, Korff had caught the attention of newspapers and radio and television stations.

Korff said his interest in UFOs is neither as a believer nor a debunker.

''I'm on the fence until I find an answer," he said.

While still in high school, Korff also attracted attention when he and another student had a photograph that was taken at the Kennedy assassination analyzed by an image-enhancement computer. The company that did the analysis said the dark image that Korff says is a person's head is, indeed, not a shadow.

But federal officials later concluded the image on the photograph was nothing more than a scratch on the film -- a conclusion Korff maintains will be disproved when the documents are declassified in a few years.

Korff hopped from job to job after high school, usually getting laid off before he'd move on to whatever interested him. Somewhere along the line, he fell ln love with the MacIntosh by Apple Computer Inc.

Then, Korff got hyped up over hypermedia, also called hypertext or mysteryware.

The hypertext idea was developed by computer guru Ted Nelson, based on a 25-year-old concept of entering and retrieving bits of information from a computer free-form instead of organizing information in the traditional table-of- contents hierarchy.

For example, Apple's Hypercard system might replace a medical text by showing a detailed picture of a human eye. A student could point to the iris on the computer screen and a written chapter about the iris would appear.

Korff has created a file called Rosettastone in his Hypercard system for -- what else? -- his volumes of UFO information. He enters the file by placing a cursor on a picture of -- what else? -- a flying saucer in the system's menu. ''I can do anything I want -- this is the future right here," Korff said quickly while rapidly scrolling through files with information on family trees, grocery lists, wine inventories and a recipe for crab apple jelly.

UFOs may be just a hobby for Korff now, but he's involved enough to gear his computer toward studying the phenomenon. He's also got an updated version of his first book coming out in a few months as the first publication of a New Jersey-based company he and two other UFO researchers own.

Still, he said working on the hypertext concept remains his latest goal.

''I live for the day Johnny can get whatever he wants (on a computer)," Korff said. "A total freedom of information.

''This is the future," he said again, motioning toward the small computer on the dinette table. "I won't see it in my lifetime. They'll have to read all about me on a Hypercard."

Photos (2) LINK

PHOTO: Kal Korff

. . . Fixated on computers

PHOTO: Tom Van Dyke -- Mercury News

Kal Korff gained fame 10 years ago for his UFO studies and book (color)
Edition: Alameda County/AMSection: The WeeklyPage: 1

San Jose Mercury News (CA)-January 23, 1994
Author: JEFF GOTTLIEB, Mercury News Staff Writer


Palo Alto computer nerd Kal Korff appeared on Larry King's television show in November to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed President John F. Kennedy. He's developed software that allows you to test your very own conspiracy theory and fire at the president's motorcade.

The JFK assassination is the least of the mysteries Korff says his organization, Total Research, plans to solve. Try UFOs, the Loch Ness monster and the truth about Exodus, Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah's Ark, Jesus Christ and the Shroud of Turin for starters.

There are limits, though. "We will not investigate Elvis sightings," Korff said. "We are not lunatics."

Clearly, though, Kal Korff is different from other tech heads who come home after work to play computer games or watch reruns of "Star Trek." Korff, a college dropout whose job is solving customer software problems at Apple's Claris Corp. software subsidiary in Santa Clara, says he has spent $100,000 of his own money in the past five or six years to finance his quests for "The Truth." And he has big plans -- for books, videos and computer software documenting the results.

Total Research describes itself as a think tank composed of "a select group of scientists, technical experts, historians, philosophers and theologians who use their skills to help solve challenging problems, the results of which have positive benefits for humankind."

A gathering of Nobel Prize winners it isn't. Among its members are a director of videos for local rock groups, a self-trained historian who sells real estate in Sonora, a manager of rock groups, a special effects expert and a graphic artist. About half are people Korff said he met through his UFO research.

''I'm out there to find the truth," Korff repeats over and over like a mantra, pointing to the evolution of his views of the JFK murder from conspiracy to the work of a lone nut.

But that's a tall order when investigating mysteries quite literally of biblical proportions: Does the the Shroud of Turin show the image of Jesus? Exactly where and when did the Exodus take place? And did Noah really take that boat ride?

Korff, 31, says he seeks only the truth, wherever the truth may lead.

But the head of his group's archaeology and history division, Brad Sparks, who has written a 600-page manuscript on the Exodus, describes himself as "a conservative evangelical Christian" who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and is scientific assistant to the president of the fundamentalist Christian Research Institute in Orange County.

It might follow that he would have a particular slant when trying to prove or disprove parts of the Bible.

Korff doesn't think so. "The fact is this man has found stuff no one else has," said Korff.

Sparks said Korff has the same religious views as his, but "it's not a label he wants to advertise."

Korff said he is a Christian but rejects further labels.

Experts asked about Korff and company's biblical research said many of his facts were wrong and found some of his statements to be downright goofy.

Take his plan to ask the Vatican to allow him to test the Shroud of Turin.

''That's like saying, 'I'll have breakfast with the president. I'll call him at 10,' " said Brent Walters, an instructor of western religion at San Jose State University.

But Korff shrugs off the experts' criticism, saying they are biased. Almost all thinkers who are ahead of their time suffer ridicule or worse, Korff explains.

He forges ahead with his myriad schemes, hatching plans to help the homeless, advance animal rights and rebuild Solomon's temple in Jerusalem.

Korff's quest for truth started when he became interested in flying saucers at age 11. While still in high school, he lectured and wrote a book on the subject.

His interest in flying saucers has stayed with him. Although he says he is neither a debunker nor a believer, his search for the truth about UFOs gives a glimpse into the fervor of his efforts.

He remains obsessed with a Swiss UFO group centered around a one-armed farmer who claims beings from a far-off planet visit him and take him back in time and into the future.

In 1991, Korff let his brown hair grow, adopted a pseudonym and infiltrated the Billy Meier UFO group at its Swiss headquarters while toting a hidden video camera. He says a video of his expose will be released soon.

Korff's greatest talent may be his ability to garner publicity. He talked his way onto Larry King's CNN show in November, at a time when a score of JFK assassination buffs who had written books were dying for the chance.

Korff says King told him during a commercial break that he wanted to bring him back for a one-hour, one-man special on the JFK assassination. He also was hoping King would write the introduction to his assassination book.

King's publicist asked the talk show host about those plans. "He's not aware of this at all," she said.



Kal Korff aims to solve some of the world's great enigmas such as Kennedy's assassination, Noah's boat ride and UFO appearances.

Edition: Peninsula/AmSection: LocalPage: 1B
Index Terms: COMPUTER RESEARCH UNUSUAL BUSINESS MAN PALO-ALTO PROFILERecord Number: 9401060371Copyright (c) 1994 San Jose Mercury News