Theodore John Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, is an American domestic terrorist and former mathematics professor. He was a mathematical prodigy who left academia in 1969 to live a primitive life. He killed three people and injured 23 others in a nationwide bombing campaign between 1978 and 1995 against people he believed were advancing modern technology and destroying the environment. But did you know he considered his life sentences as achievements?
Ted Kaczynski the infamous Unabomber, referred to his eight life sentences as “awards of recognition” at his Harvard University 50-year Reunion.
The Early Life of Theodor Kaczynski
Theodore Kaczynski was born in 1942 in Chicago to a working-class Polish family. He was one of two children, the other being his younger brother David, who played a vital role in his arrest.
Kaczynski was accepted to Harvard University on a full scholarship at 16. After graduating early from Evergreen Park Community High School, he skipped 11th grade. Kaczynski did not make many friends at the Ivy League school, but he continued to excel academically. During his time at Harvard, Kaczynski took part in a contentious study led by psychologist Henry Murray.
Subjects were asked to write an essay about their philosophies as part of the experiment. The subjects were exposed to hours of insults and personal attacks while hooked up to electrodes to measure their physiological response.
It is believed that Kaczynski took part in this experiment for more than 200 hours over three years beginning in 1959 and that his mental and emotional well-being suffered as a result.
Nonetheless, he graduated from Harvard in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He later received a master’s degree in 1964 and a doctorate in 1967 in the same field from the University of Michigan.
After finishing his studies, Kaczynski became the University of California, Berkeley’s youngest assistant professor in history when he was hired to teach undergraduate geometry and calculus in the fall of 1967, at the age of 25. However, two years later, he resigned without explanation. (Source: History)
The Wrath of the Unabomber
By 1975, he was disturbed by the encroachment of real estate and industrial development in the area surrounding his home. To sabotage development, Kaczynski began vandalizing construction sites in the Lincoln area, influenced by the writings of French Christian anarchist philosopher Jacques Ellul.
Kaczynski began using mail bombs sent through the United States Postal Service (USPS), or that he occasionally hand-delivered himself, in a series of coordinated attacks that began in 1978 and lasted for 17 years.
Buckley Crist, a Northwestern University engineering professor, escaped injury when a package bearing his return address was discovered in a parking lot outside his office building and returned to him. Crist notified security that he had not delivered the package.
Over the next seven years, Kaczynski sent nine homemade pipe bombs to various targets, including executives at American and United Airlines and university administrators, injuring several people, some seriously.
Hugh Scrutton, the owner of a computer store in Sacramento, was killed when a bomb sent to him exploded in December 1985. It was the first death linked to Kaczynski. In total, as he was then known, the so-called Unabomber carried out 14 attacks, using 16 bombs, killing three people and injuring another 23. On April 24, 1995, in Sacramento, he killed timber industry lobbyist Gilbert Murray. (Source: History)