Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski is perhaps best known as the Unabomber. During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Ted planted a large number of bombs targeting universities, airlines, and media sources. He was finally arrested on April 3, 1996, after almost two decades of manufacturing and placing bombs on a regular basis.
Ted Kaczynski was born May 22, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in the working class suburb of Evergreen Park and was noted as being extremely bright and shy in school. He entered Harvard in 1958 on a full scholarship to study mathematics and physics. While there, Kaczynski lived in Eliot House, which was normally known as a preppy haven, but as before, he kept to himself and quietly studied mathematics. He went on to the University of Michigan in 1964 for graduate studies in mathematics, where he completed his dissertation on boundary functions in 1967. Upon receiving his Ph. D., Kaczynski moved on to Berkeley (the University of California campus there, to be more specific) where he taught in the mathematics department from 1967 to 1969 as an assistant professor. He resigned in 1969 and largely disappeared, publishing his last mathematical paper in 1970.
During this time his whereabouts are largely unknown. He lived for a time in Salt Lake City, Utah, and eventually moved on to a cabin outside of Lincoln, Montana. What is known is that starting in 1978 with a bombing at Northwestern University, which is the first acknowledged Unabomber attack, he began to plant a series of bombs across the United States. On May 25, 1978, a package was found in a parking lot at the University of Illinois in Chicago and was taken to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois because of the return address. It exploded when it was opened on May 26, injuring Terry Marker, a security guard.
A series of similar attacks over the rest of the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s followed, mostly targeting universities and airlines. The attacks followed a consistent pattern of meticulously hand-crafted bombs delivered by hand in a package form and left alone until detonated later, usually by timer or by motion. After a while, the FBI's investigation into the cases began to assemble a profile of the man, referring to him as "UNABOM," short for UNiversity Airline BOMber, and the origination of the name Unabomber.
Matters finally came to a head on June 24, 1995, when letters containing the Unabomber manifesto were mailed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and to Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. (If you'd like to read the entire manifesto, it can be found at http://www.soci.niu.edu/~critcrim/uni/uni.html ; it is quite an interesting read). In exchange for these publications publishing the letter and manifesto, the unsigned writer agreed to stop the bombings. The manifesto itself spelled out a strongly conservative anti-technology political stance that basically decried the modern world as a cesspool. The papers and magazines did publish the manifesto, but its publication began to spell the beginning of the end for Ted. Emboldened by this, he proceeded to write many letters to a wide variety of publications (including Scientific American, the San Francisco Chronicle, various social science professors at universities, and additional letters to the New York Times and Washington Post). These letters eventually formed a paper trail that began to lead to Kaczynski, eventually leading his brother, David Kaczynski, to turn him over to the authorities.
On April 3, 1996, the FBI visited a cabin outside of Lincoln, Montana, where Kaczynski had lived for the last several years. They discovered a man with an existence that matched his anti-technology beliefs. Kaczynski lived by himself without a telephone, electricity, sewage or running water. Kaczynski, wearing soiled, threadbare overalls or jeans, a thick beard, and a straw hat, was arrested by the FBI on charges of possessing equipment to make bombs. He was indicted on June 18, 1996 in relation to the bombings, and on May 4, 1998, Kaczynski was sentenced to four life sentences without parole for his crimes. He sits today in a super-maximum security federal prison in southern Colorado in a jail cell, serving out the remainder of his natural life behind bars.
His legacy comes from the lives he ended and perhaps the political legacy of his manifesto, which, although clearly the product of a confused mind, does bring to light some valid points about modern society. It is well worth reading and reflecting upon.