May 4, 1998: Theodore Kaczynski is sentenced. He was born in 1942 in Illinois. As a baby, he contracted a case of hives of unknown origin and was hospitalized several times in isolation rooms for treatment. When he was in grade school, his IQ was measured at 167. He skipped sixth grade and was bullied by the older students, not fitting in. In high school, he found his love of mathematics and was soon far outstripping the normal high school students and curriculum. He began college at Harvard University at the age of 16. While there, he participated in a study by Henry Murray. The study was ostensibly to measure stress reactions but proved to be a brutal and unethical attack on the subjects in order to gain insight into the stress response. Later legal defense blamed this study, at least in part, for Ted Kaczynski’s bizarre behavior.
He graduated from Harvard in 1962 and went to the University of Michigan where he earned a PhD in mathematics. His thesis was so complex, one of his professors could not figure out the problem on which is was based. In 1967, he became an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley – the youngest professor they had ever hired. He resigned his position in 1969 at the age of 26. My the middle of the year, he had moved back to his parents’ house and two years later moved to a small cabin he had built for himself outside Lincoln, Montana. He lived with little money, no electricity and no running water. He began to teach himself survival skills, hoping to live entirely autonomously. He was not up to the task and began committing small acts of sabotage as people and industry destroyed the sanctity of the area around his cabin.
He began his bombing attacks after he went to one of his favorite spots and found it turned into a road. He began studying sociology and political philosophy. He wanted to reform society. And then he wanted to destroy it. His first, primitive bomb brought him to the attention of the FBI. He mailed or hand-delivered ever more sophisticated bombs over the next 17 years. These killed three people and injured 23 more. He became known as the Unabomber. His first mail bomb went to Buckley Crist of Northwestern University in May 1978. Campus policeman Terry Marker was injured opening the suspicious package.
John Hauser was seriously wounded in 1985, the first truly serious injury. Hugh Scrutton was the first fatality and was also attacked in 1985. Thomas Mosser was killed in 1994 and Gilbert Murray was killed in 1995. The Unabomber was arrested on April 3, 1996 at his remote cabin after his brother, David, helped the FBI. To avoid the death penalty, Kaczynski pled guilty to all government charges on January 22, 1998. He was sentenced on this day to eight life sentences without the possibility of parole. He is held at the ADX Florence, a maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.
But what first motivated me wasn’t anything I read. I just got mad seeing the machines ripping up the woods and so forth…
The big problem is that people don’t believe a revolution is possible, and it is not possible precisely because they do not believe it is possible.
The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.
We are not supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. – all from Theodore Kaczynski
Also on this day: The Little General – In 1814, Napoleon I is exiled to Elba.
Nicaragua – In 1855, William Walker left to conquer Nicaragua.
First and Only – In 1979, Margaret Thatcher was elected.
Boom – In 1988, a large explosion outside Las Vegas was the start of the PEPCON fire.
Canada’s Navy – In 1910, the Canadian Navy was formed.