First Cryogenic Preservation

James Hiram Bedford (April 20, 1893 – January 12, 1967) was a University of California psychology professor. He is the first person whose body was cryopreserved after legal death, and who remains preserved at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Bedford’s body was frozen a few hours after his death, due to natural causes related to cancer. His body was preserved by Robert Prehoda (author of the 1969 book Suspended Animation), Dr. Dane Brunol (physician and biophysicist) and Robert Nelson (President of the Cryonics Society of California). Nelson then wrote a book about the subject titled, We Froze the First Man.

As of January 31, 2017, Alcor had 149 individuals in cryopreservation either as whole bodies or brains and more than a thousand individuals who have made arrangements to be cryogenically preserved after death. According to The New York Times, cryonicists are predominantly nonreligious white males, outnumbering women by about three to one.

A look at the Alcor website showed that cryogenic preservation costs about 200,000 dollars and can be paid for out of a life insurance policy.


This “bigfoot” Dewar is custom-designed to contain four whole body patients and six neuropatients immersed in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees Celsius. The Dewar is an insulated container which consumes no electric power. Liquid nitrogen is added periodically to replace the small amount that evaporates. Photo courtesy of Alcor Life Extension Foundation.


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