The Unabomber (UNiversity and Airline BOMBER) Ted Kaczynski
Replica of letter bomb
It was May 25th 1978.
A carefully wrapped parcel lay on the ground of the engineering department parking lot at the University of Chicago. It bore red, white and blue stamps commemorating playwright Eugene O’Neill. It was addressed to engineering Professor E.J. Smith, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
It appeared to be an undelivered parcel returned to its sender — Professor Buckley Crist of Northwestern University in nearby Evanston Illinois. Without questioning how it had arrived at a different institution, the finder contacted Professor Crist.
Professor Crist claimed to have no knowledge of the parcel, but had it couriered to him anyway. But when he saw it the following day, he noticed it hadn’t been addressed in his own handwriting. This made him suspicious enough to call in campus cop Terry Marker.
Ironically, there was some joking — “Maybe it’s a bomb!” But the joke soon soured when Marker opened the parcel. It exploded in his hand and he became the first person to be scarred by the Unabomber’s handiwork.
Fortunately, the injury was slight, mainly because the bomb was an amateurish piece of construction. Had it detonated with the full force its maker obviously intended, Terry Marker and those around him could well have sustained serious — if not fatal — injuries. As it was, the security officer’s left hand was sufficiently damaged to send him to Evanston hospital.
The bomb was made of metal that could have come from a home workshop. The primary component was a piece of metal pipe, about 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter and 9 inches (230 mm) long. The bomb contained smokeless explosive powders, and the box and the plugs that sealed the pipe ends were handcrafted from wood. In comparison, most pipe bombs usually use threaded metal ends sold in many hardware stores. Wooden ends lack the strength to allow significant pressure to build within the pipe, explaining why the bomb did not cause severe damage. The primitive trigger device that the bomb employed was a nail, tensioned by rubber bands designed to slam into six common match heads when the box was opened. The match heads would immediately burst into flame and ignite the explosive powders. However, when the trigger hit the match heads, only three ignited. A more efficient technique, later employed by Kaczynski, is to use batteries and heat filament wire to ignite the explosives faster and more effectively.