Childhood of Elon Musk | Elon Musk Biography

This is a story of a nerdy boy, who was bullied in school, during the violent days of Africa A boy who built a game at the age of 12. A boy who imagined the world beyond the earth and the sky. This is the story of that boy this is the story of Elon Musk.

Pretoria, South Africa 1971

Elon was born and brought up during the violent days of South Africa. White and black people clashed as did blacks of different tribes.

Errol Musk and Maye Musk

He was a firstborn of Maye and Errol. Two individuals who grew up in the same neighborhood and spent time with each other as loving couples during their University days.

Grandparents – Adventurous Family

Joshua Haldeman

Elon’s mother Maye is from an amazing adventurous family. Elon’s grandparents were adventurous pilots who spent years to find the lost city in the desert. His grandparents Joshua and Wayne Haldeman spent most of their lives on Exploration. Elon’s great grandfather was the first person to fly from Africa to Australia.

Elon Musk about His Grandfather

So, because of having such adventurous parents Maye and her sibling left with the impression that nothing is impossible.

We can see that same hunger of exploration in Elon musk - solving worlds problem, Building something new something different doing what no one else was ready to do even when everyone called him crazy. Elon Musk is always determined to follow his dreams and goals no matter what people think of him.

Elon Musk Childhood

Elon and His Brother and Sister

Little Elon was 5 years old in 1976 during the Soweto uprising. An incident, which started with the peaceful march of black students and took a violent turn. Many died at the hands of police. Elon and his brother admit witnessing some rough stuff, themselves while growing up.

Soweto Uprising
Throughout his childhood, Elon wanted to escape the place
where he lived and wanted to go to a place where his dream can flourish. Elon’s childhood was all about being isolated, wandering
around his own brain and his love towards books.

In the biography of Musk by Ashlee Vance Elon’s mother, Maye stated that-

Elon Musk's mother about his childhood

After all, it is a good thing, that Elon learned a way to block out the whole world and dedicate all of his concentration to a single task.

Elon Musk’s love for Reading Books

Elon’s father was in engineering business and he was good at it. Their family owned one of the biggest houses in Pretoria. During his childhood, Elon was always different from other kids. He spent more time in libraries rather than playing with his friends. He started reading fictional books and then comics and nonfiction.

Favorite Books of Elon Musk

Elon liked reading books like the lord of the rings. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, The moon is a harsh mistress and his most favorite the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. All these books are fantasy and science fiction books with having space exploration theories included and so did the Elon’s projects.

Building rockets, trying to send people to mars, building sustainable energy resources on earth and talking of humans becoming multi-planetary species

Elon took fantasy too seriously. Ok, but the best part is at the same time he took the scientific and logical approach to achieve the desired outcomes of his projects.

Elon Musk is a rare combination of fantasy logic and science. By mixing these three, he is building and inventing new technology which an ordinary person could not even imagine.

Eclectic Universe

Elon is a knowledgeable person just because of his love for books. Sometimes he spent the whole day reading books, at the age of four Elon read all the available books at his school library and the neighborhood library. And, guess what after that he started reading Encyclopedia Britannica.

Reading fiction improves brain connectivity and function.

During childhood because of his reading habit, Elon’s brain started functioning way faster than kids around him. He started thinking rationally he detected flaws in other people’s thinking and tried to correct them. Little Elon genuinely thought that people would be happy to hear about the flaws in their thinking.

But, People don’t really like to be corrected. and for that very same reason, other kids stopped playing with Elon and he became more isolated.

Divorced Parents

For some reasons, Musk family started falling apart. Errol and Maye filed for divorce. After the divorce, Elon and his brother Kimball started living with his father.

Errol’s side of the family has deep South African roots. Errols father Walter Henry James was an army Sergeant. Therefore Errol had that disciplinary trait from his father. According to Elon musk and his family Errol Musk is the most unpleasant man to live with.

Why did Elon choose to live with his Father?

Living with father means a grand life. Elon’s father had plenty of books for Elon and he was financially strong and sufficient and was able to buy Computers and other luxury stuff for Elon. Still, Elon and his brother Kimball had a kind of disturbed relationship with their father,

From Biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

When Ashley Vance the author of Elon’s Biography asked Elon about his father.

Elon said- “It would certainly be accurate to say that I did not have a good childhood. It was not absent of good, but it was not a happy childhood. It was like misery my father is good at making life miserable that’s for sure. He can take any situation no matter how good it is and make it bad. He is not a happy man. I don’t know ..fuck I don’t know how someone becomes like that.

Entrepreneurship Qualities in Elon Musk

Entrepreneurship qualities in Elon and his brother can be traced back to their school days. They were not ordinary teenagers who like talking about movies and girls. They both had productive conversations with each other on the diverse range of topics including Banking, space industry and So on.

Productive Conversations

One of their Schoolmate Mr. Wood tells an incident while remembering his school days,

One day during a class break Elon and Kimball were chatting when wood interrupted them and asked what are they talking about They said whether there is a need for branch banking in the financial industry and whether we will move to paperless banking. So that kind productive conversation Elon and his brother had during their childhood and guy do you want to know the result of that productive talk Elon and his Brother had during their school days, Paypal which introduced paperless online Money transfer service in Financial industry.

Elon Musk always favored Solar Power

Elon in his school during a science debate always favored solar power against fossil fuels and the result is his electric car company Tesla and Solar City.

Elon Musk was bullied.

Elon also faced serious bullying during his school day. In one incident because of getting beaten by psycho bullies he blacked out and had to stay at home for a week.

This is how Elon expressed his feeling about schools in an interview.

Elon never cared about his grades he thinks if you are not interested in a particular subject then studying that subject is a waste of time. In addition, He does not give much importance to college degrees.

Elon’s first Computer

When Elon was 10 years old, he visited Sandton City Mall in Johannesburg and there he saw a computer for the first time. While Elon’s father thought that these computers would only be used for gaming and will not be useful for real Engineering. This 10-year-old boy was Super excited about them.

Elon somehow convinced his father to purchase that computer for him. Commodore VIC-20 that was his first computer in the 1980s. It used to come with 5 kilobytes of memory and a workbook on the basic programming language.

It was supposed to take six months to go through all the lessons mentioned in that workbook. However, Ellon stayed up for 3 days without any sleep and finished the entire thing.

Elon learned to code at the age of 10

In 1984, At the age of 12 Elon designed the source code for a video game called blaster which was published by a south African trade publication. That was the first time Elon was introduced to the public.

In this game, you have to destroy an alien space freighter which is carrying hydrogen beams and status beam machines. These were the words of 12 years old Elon while describing the theme of his game.

In this game, you have to destroy an alien space freighter which is carrying hydrogen beams and status beam machine.

12 Years old Elon Musk
First game made by Elon Musk

Look at the creativity in his writing anyone can notice that this kid has read lots and lots of books. Elon himself stated in his biography by Ashlee Vance that he wanted to write a book like Lord of the rings.

So see Elon was all about innovation and creating his own world.

Elon Musk in Highschool

Elon Musk spent later stages of high school at Pretoria boys high school. His high school friend Gideon Fourie said that honestly there were just no signs that Elon was going to be a billionaire. In high school, Elon paid more attention to subjects, which he genuinely liked or felt interested. He studied remaining subject just to score passing marks.

Elon used to say, “ I would rather play video games, read books and write software codes than try and get an A grade if there is no point in getting an A.He always believed in thinking and making decisions for himself

Young Elon

At the age of 17 finally, the moment arrived where finally Elon was about to leave Africa behind and start a new journey this was the moment Elon has been waiting for throughout his childhood.

Elon Musk likes the risks and he makes other people change the way they look at risk as he says –

You do not grow up thinking getting a job is the hard part. That is just not interesting enough.

Elon Musk

In the Next episode, we will see How Elon Musk built his first company

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