Theodore John Kaczynski (born May 22, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois), also known as the Unabomber, was convicted in connection with a series of carefully planned bombings via the U.S. mail and other means which took three lives and injured several others over a period of seventeen years before he was finally apprehended in 1996. He also wrote a lengthy essay entitled Industrial Society and its Future, the publication of which led to his capture.
Showing signs of very high intelligence early in life, Kaczynski graduated early from high school and entered Harvard University in 1958 at age 16. Graduating with a degree in mathematics in 1962, he then went to the University of Michigan where to took a Masters and PhD.
Thereafter, he moved to California where he took up a position as assistant professor of mathematics at the University of California in Berkeley. However, he resigned from that post just two years later and took up the life of a semi-hermit, working odd jobs and part time to support himself.
In the late 1970s, a series of carefully planned bombings, later attributed to Kaczynski, began. The bombings targeted mainly academics, but one was directed against an airline. Because of certain characteristics which appeared to link them together, and also because of their targets, the perpetrator was dubbed the Unabomber by the FBI, the name being derived from university and airlines bomber.
The bombings seemed to cease for a number of years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but resumed again in 1993. At that time and subsequently, several letters were sent to newspapers and others taking credit for the bombings on behalf of a fictitious anarchist group and containing warnings and messages related thereto.
In one of these letters, from the year 1995, the writer offered to cease targeting individuals (but reserved the possibility of continuing sabatoge against property) provided a lengthy essay which he had written be published and widely distributed. On September 19, 1995, after consultation with the FBI, this essay, under the title Industrial Society and its Future, was published in that day's edition of the Washington Post.
Arrest and conviction
Following the publication of the essay, David Kaczynski, Ted's younger brother, contacted the FBI and told them of his suspicions that the author of the article was his brother. His suspicions were based partly on the idiosyncratic views and terminology used in the document. Based in part on this testimony, the FBI obtained a search warrant and, on April 3, 1996, arrested Ted Kacznynski at his cabin in Montana.
Kaczynski was finally brought to trial in Sacramento, California nearly two years later in a case which drew heavy media attention. Just as the trial got underway, a plea bargain was entered into whereby Ted Kaczynski pled guilty to thirteen counts involving attacks in various places, attacks which killed three people. He was eventually sentenced to serve several consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.
Industrial Society and its Future
"The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race." Thus begins the essay Industrial Society and its Future, more popularly known as the Unabomber Manifesto. This opening statement also serves as the basic premise of the document.
Kaczynski goes on to assert that, although he is not completely certain as to the future of industrial / technological society, neither of the two main possible options which he sees bode well for the human race. On the one hand, so he asserts, should the system manage to avoid a total breakdown and survive in the long run, it will be able to do so only on the basis of further restrictions on human freedom, autonomy, and dignity.
The other possibility, as he sees it, is that the system will eventually break down, with enormous suffering to follow and, further, the more developed and bigger the system becomes before this breakdown, the worse will be the consequences of that breakdown.