With the names of some bombing victims found in documents inside suspect Theodore J. Kaczynski's secluded Montana cabin, the FBI is trying to piece together how the elusive Unabomber chose the targets of a string of scattered and seemingly random bombings that have baffled investigators since 1978.

The effort began several weeks ago when agents zeroed in on Kaczynski, a 53-year-old Harvard graduate living as a recluse near Lincoln, Mont., as the leading suspect in the case. The FBI began quietly contacting the surviving victims of the Unabomber's 18-year terror campaign in an attempt to establish possible connections between them and Kaczynski, victims said yesterday. Patrick Fischer, the head of Vanderbilt University's computer science department, said the FBI came to see him in Nashville on March 20 and showed him an array of six photos, six biographies and six names. "I think now that I was attending kind of a remote police lineup," Fischer told a reporter. "The bio I was most interested in was Kaczynski's. I think he was the only {real} suspect {in the group}. They never matched up the name to a photo to a bio."

Fischer's father, Carl Fischer, was a math professor at the University of Michigan when Kaczynski was a graduate student there. Patrick Fischer also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the years that Kaczynski was a Harvard student. But he said he does not know why the Unabomber picked him as a target or if their paths ever crossed.

John Hauser, a University of Colorado professor who was injured in a 1985 attack in Berkeley, said the FBI visited him about a month ago and showed him photographs of six to eight potential suspects, something they had never done before. "I knew then that they must be getting close to something," he said. The photographs were of men, whom this victim described as largely bearded "mountain man types." The FBI also provided brief backgrounds on each of the men.

Theodore Kaczynski was among those pictured, but Hauser said he did not recognize him.

David Gelernter, the Yale University computer science professor who was gravely injured in a June 1993 Unabomber blast, said that he, too, was visited by FBI agents recently, and that they bore the same sort of materials that had been shown to others wounded by the bomber.

"I'm reluctant to say too much about what they've done" for fear of revealing too much information about the investigators' methods, said Gelernter, a pioneer in the field of "ensemble computing," or getting networked machines to work together as a virtual supercomputer.

Gelernter said he saw nothing in the material that would indicate that he and the bombing suspect had ever crossed paths. In Sacramento, the FBI is investigating whether Kaczynski may have consulted an outdated directory of associations at the library in Lincoln, Mont., to come up with the name and address of his last intended victim -- William Dennison, the former president of the California Forestry Association. Dennison's name was on the address of a mail bomb that exploded last year at the forestry association's office, killing Gilbert P. Murray, 47, who had succeeded Dennison as the association's president.

Kaczynski could have looked up the name and address in a book of association names that lists Dennison as the group's president, Dennison said. But Dennison had left that job a year before the Unabomber's package, bearing several stamps and postmarked from Oakland, Calif., exploded and destroyed the association's Sacramento offices..

Murray was killed when he tore open the package with a pair of scissors and opened the wooden box, contained in a small brown paper package that was plopped down on the receptionist's desk around 2:20 p.m. The package was so heavy that the association's scientist, Robert Taylor, remarked that it was "heavy enough to be a bomb," according to those present.

How Dennison came across the Unabomber's screen has been a matter of much speculation at the forestry association offices. "We've sat for hours trying to figure out how he selected us and Bill Dennison," said Donn Zea, spokesman for the lobbying group.

But Dennison, 61, now a supervisor for a Northern California county, said the Unabomber "couldn't be interested in our industry without knowing my name."

Dennison was a top official in the California forestry business for 14 years, eventually becoming the association's president. He worked with Congress and testified before the California Legislature. During the late 1980s through his retirement in April 1994, he was frequently quoted in newspapers throughout Northern California and Oregon, including the Sacramento Bee.

Dennison said he thinks the Unabomber may have been targeting the association rather than the individual because the Unabomber didn't investigate enough to find that Dennison had left a year earlier.

"It wouldn't have been difficult to find that I was gone, so he was after a position, not a name," Dennison said in an interview. The forestry association has been a high-profile lobbying group that played a major role in what has become known as "the Timber Wars," a series of legislative battles between environmentalists and the forestry association from 1987 through 1990.

The group has become a well-known target for environmentalists' ire, even earning a spot on an underground environmental hit list, Zea said.

The Timber Wars were so bitterly fought that the forestry association hired opposition research and spent millions to defeat legislation that would prevent them from cutting down old-growth forests. Environmentalists became outraged when the association developed a computer model to justify its contention that the Northern Spotted Owl should be removed from the federal Endangered Species List. "That made lots of waves," Zea said. The effort was not successful. "We've been cutting edge in this debate," Zea said. "We employed computer technology. We were in the Sacramento papers on a daily basis, which is where the Unabomb suspect has visited. So maybe he goes down to the Lincoln library and gets our name from a list of associations." Thomas reported from Washington and Heath from Sacramento. Staff writers John Schwartz and George Lardner also contributed to this report from Washington.