Monday, June 21, 2010

Ted Kaczynski (aka The Unabomber)

Ted Kaczynski graduated at the age of 16 from Evergreen Park Community High School in Illinois in 1958. He became obsessed with math during his high school years, but he also made time for clubs devoted to biology, chess, coin collecting, and the German language. Kaczynski earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1962 and went on to receive a master's degree and a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Michigan. According to the book Harvard and the Unabomber by Alston Chase, it was while he was attending school in Ann Arbor that the future Unabomber considered having a sex change operation. In 1966 Kaczynski made an appointment to see a psychiatrist at the University Health Center to discuss his decision. At the last minute he changed his mind and, instead, talked about his depression over the military draft with the doctor.

After a short-lived stint as a professor at Berkeley, the increasingly crazed Kaczynski eventually made his way to a one-room cabin in Montana. It from this unassuming shack that he would stage his infamous war on "industrial society" and write a long, rambling indictment of technology. It was this 35,000 word screed that ultimately proved to be Kaczynski's undoing. When the manifesto was published in the Washington Post in 1995 David Kaczynski recognized the language and style as being similar to letters he had received from his wayward sibling. Through his lawyer, David turned over the correspondence to the FBI.

In 1998 Kaczynski pleaded guilty to his crimes in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty. The former mountain man now lives in a luxurious cell at Colorado's Supermax prison where he is forced to put up with indoor plumbing and a permanently mounted TV/radio. The Unabomber's old digs now reside at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.


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