Elon Reeve Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa’s third-largest city, in 1971. His mother was a fashion star and a nutritionist, and his father was an engineer. He is the oldest of three children in a family with high aspirations. Kimbal Musk, his brother, is a venture capitalist and an environmentalist. Tosca Musk, his sister, is a successful producer and director.
Elon Musk lived primarily with his father after his parents split when he was a teenager.
Musk entered school a year before schedule, at the private Waterkloof House Preparatory School, and following Pretoria Boys High School. He was a voracious reader who often enjoyed comic books. He was humiliated in school and retreated to his books to the detriment of his social life, describing himself as a bookworm and a smart aleck.
Elon Musk’s intellectual prowess didn’t help him much as a child. He got a bunch of friends in the tough-minded Afrikaner community he met in school.
If there was one bright spot in Musk’s life, it was technology. He learned to program on the Commodore VIC-20, an inexpensive home machine when he was just ten years old. He quickly progressed to the point where he could build Blastar, a Space-Invaders-style video game. For $500, he sold the game’s BASIC code to a magazine called PC and Office Technology.
Musk and his brother decided to open a video game arcade near their school at the time. The scheme was eventually nixed by their guardians. The only thing preventing them was the need for a city permit, which had to be applied for by an adult.
Musk relocated to Canada at the age of 17 to stop serving in the South African military, mostly responsible for implementing apartheid in the late 1980s. Via his mother, he eventually became a Canadian citizen.
Musk studied at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, after emigrating to Canada. Justine Wilson, an aspiring journalist, became his wife. Before divorcing in 2008, they married and had five sons together, including twins and triplets.
Musk moved to the University of Pennsylvania after two years at Queen’s University. He tackled two majors, but it wasn’t all work and no play for him. He bought a 10-bedroom fraternity house with a friend, which they used as an impromptu nightclub.
Musk graduated from the Wharton School with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. The two majors foreshadow Musk’s future career path, but physics had the most profound impact on his thought.
Elon Musk founded Zip2, a web software company that would help newspapers create online city guides, in 1995 with $28,000 and his younger brother Kimbal. Zip2 was purchased by Compaq’s AltaVista online search engine for $340 million in 1999.
Elon Musk used the money he received from the Zip2 buyout to launch X.com, which he hoped would become the future of banking. X was combined with a corporation named Confinity, and the resultant entity was dubbed PayPal.The company was then sold to eBay for $1.5 billion after Elon Musk was out.
Following PayPal’s demise, Elon Musk aided in the funding of Tesla, an electric car company.
Elon Musk joined engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to help operate Tesla Motors in 2004. He played a pivotal role in creating the world’s first electric vehicle, the Tesla Roadster. Musk took over as CEO and product architect after Eberhard was fired from the company in 2007 due to disputes. Tesla has grown to be one of the most successful and coveted car brands in the world under his leadership.
Elon Musk’s interstellar travel firm, SpaceX, has been awarded several high-profile contracts by NASA and the US Air Force to develop rockets and perform military missions. Musk has been outspoken about his intentions to send an astronaut to Mars by 2025 as part of a joint NASA-Musk project.
In addition to manufacturing electric cars, Tesla has a strong presence in the solar energy sector, thanks to its purchase of SolarCity. This renewable energy services company, which was established in 2006, currently produces two rechargeable solar batteries primarily used for stationary energy storage. The Powerwall is designed for home backup power and off-grid use. In contrast, the Powerpack is designed for industrial or electric utility grid use.