Dr. James Bedford

Photo courtesy Alcor Life Extension Foundation

The History of Cryonics

­The first person to be cryogenically frozen was a 73-year-old psychologist, Dr. James Bedford, wh­o was suspended in 1967. His body is reportedly still in good condition at Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

The idea that a person could be frozen and then brought back to life when the technology had evolved far enough originated with the book "The Prospect of Immortality," written by physics teacher Robert Ettinger in 1964. The word "cryonics" is derived from the Greek term for "cold."

By the late 1970s, there were about six cryonics companies in the United States. But to preserve and then maintain each body indefinitely was so expensive, many of these companies wound up closing shop by the following decade.

Today, only a handful of companies offer full cryosuspension services, including Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona and the Cryonics Institute in Michigan. In early 2004, Alcor had more than 650 members and 59 patients in cryopreservation.

For more information on cryonics and related topics, check out the links on the next page.