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28 July 2014
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You are here: BBC > Science & Nature > Horizon > Recent Horizons > The Genius Sperm Bank
The genius sperm bank

First broadcast on 15 June 2006

The Genius Sperm Bank was created in the late 1970s by Robert Klark Graham, an American millionaire optometrist. Officially named the Repository for Germinal Choice, its aim was to breed highly intelligent people in order to save the world from genetic decline. Graham believed he could achieve this by getting clever men to donate sperm.

To be safe from prying eyes, Graham used an underground bunker in the backyard of his ranch in San Diego, California. He then set about sourcing the cleverest sperm and managed to convince three Nobel Prize winners to donate. One of them was William Shockley, a notorious racist. Accused of being a Nazi, Graham got slammed in the press. His other donors left him and his dream was nearly destroyed. Despite this the clients came flocking.

In the end, the Repository was in operation for 20 years - and responsible for the birth of 217 children.


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