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Ted Kaczynski - The Education Of A Genius

attacks university cabin spent

Theodore John Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in the Chicago, Illinois, suburb of Evergreen Park. Wanda Theresa Dombek and Theodore Richard Kaczynski soon discovered Ted Kaczynski. (AP/Wide World Photos)
that their little "Teddy" was gifted with an extremely high IQ. Ted was a shy boy who spent a great deal of his childhood indoors reading science magazines with his mother. By the time his brother David was born in 1950, Ted's father sought a recreational balance by teaching his boys how to live in the outdoors.

Young Ted breezed through school, skipping two grades and showing a talent for mathematics. He graduated from Evergreen Park High School at age sixteen and immediately entered Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on a math scholarship. Because he was so much younger than the other students, Ted was viewed as an oddity and spent most of his time alone studying. He graduated in 1962 at the age of twenty and set off for graduate school. Ted earned a master's and a doctorate degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan over the next five years. His prizewinning dissertation (thesis) was on a pure mathematical problem about circles and equations.

Domestic Terrorism


Americans were not unfamiliar with domestic terrorism when Ted Kaczynski began his attacks on modern technology in 1978. In April 1919 a series of bombings occurred associated with the notorious Red Scare, or communist threat that had shaken the nation's security. A total of thirty-eight package bombs were mailed to a variety of government officials and business leaders that spring.

A terrorist conspiracy was widely feared when the package bombs were followed by dynamite attacks in June of 1919. Explosions occurred at the homes of prominent leaders in a coordinated attack targeting eight major U.S. cities.

Ted Kaczynski used the U.S. Postal Service to send his package bombs from 1978 to 1995. His reign of terror was followed by a new form of killing beginning in October 2001 when anthrax-laced letters were mailed to several prominent addresses. Attacks such as these usually receive wide media coverage for a perpetrator's cause and are also an effective way to spread fear and anxiety among a large population.

In many cases, terrorists call officials or the media to claim responsibility for an act and to make their demands known on how to prevent further attacks. If no one claims responsibility for an attack, it remains a mystery for authorities to solve. That mystery creates a different kind of fear and suspicion. A lone terrorist is the most difficult to identify, predict, and prevent because he or she makes no contact with other terrorists.

In 1967 Kaczynski was hired as an assistant professor in the math department at the University of California at Berkeley. After only two years he suddenly quit his teaching post despite the university's desire to keep him on the faculty. Kaczynski returned to his parents' home near Chicago and applied for a Canadian land grant. While waiting for a response he worked various jobs and began writing antitechnology essays. When Ted was denied his request for immigration to Canada he headed into the wilderness of Montana.

In 1971 Ted and his brother David purchased a small parcel of land in Florence Gulch, just eighty miles southwest of Great Falls, Montana. The untouched area had more bears than people and was a perfect place for the intensely private Kaczynski. In 1975 he built the ten-by-twelve-foot cabin that would be his home for the next twenty years.

Ted's cabin lacked electricity and plumbing but required very little money for upkeep. He kept a small garden, hunted rabbits for food, and lived the life of a hermit. Kaczynski spent most of his time in the wilderness reading, writing, and developing his thoughts. At one point in 1978 he made the effort to return to society in Chicago, but it was not a good fit. By 1979 Ted was back at his cabin in Montana. He kept in touch with his family on occasion and in 1990 heard that his father had committed suicide after being diagnosed with cancer.

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