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How Elon Musk became an industry icon and a tech hero: an illustrative guide

Updated 4 years ago
Published Apr 20th, 2016 11:30PM EDT
Elon Musk Life Story

People like to compare Elon Musk to a real-world Tony Stark, but that’s not really giving Musk a fair shake. For years, Musk has been a driving force behind some of the most impactful, important and revolutionary businesses on the planet. Whether it’s his involvement with online payments via PayPal or the incredible work he’s been doing at both Tesla and SpaceX, Musk continues to push the limits of what society thinks is possible.

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Of course, Musk’s influence extends far beyond space travel and electric vehicle transport. Notably, Musk is also a chairman of SolarCity and Open AI. What’s more, there are now teams of dedicated engineers who are seemingly obsessed with bringing Musk’s Hyperloop vision to reality.

All told, Musk almost seems super-human. And to provide a bit more context as to how Musk started off, Anna Vital of Funders and Founders recently put together an illuminating infographic which charts Musk’s early involvement with computing as a child in South Africa to his Physics education at the University of Pennsylvania all the way to his eventual foray into the worlds of mobile payments, space travel, and EV transportation.

While everyone may be more or less familiar with what Musk is up to today, a look back at Musk’s journey is chock full of interesting twists and turns, as evidenced by the infographic below.

Some of the more interesting tidbits include:

  • Musk read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica at age 8
  • Musk taught himself programming by learning BASIC in just 3 days
  • Musk at age 12 wrote a video game and sold it for $500
  • Musk started a Stanford Ph.D program in Applied Physics but dropped out after two days to become an entrepreneur


Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.