Elon Musk is an engineer, inventor, CEO, investor, and billionaire. But there's more to Musk than meets the eye, and to truly understand this self-made South African native, it's necessary to learn a few fun facts. Musk is a dreamer with a vision; he co-founded PayPal and Tesla. But his ultimate goal is space exploration, and he believes he can help colonize Mars. Sound like science fiction? Check out these things you might not have known about Musk, and perhaps his past achievements will give insight into his visions for the future.
Musk was born in South Africa, but moved to Canada on his own while still a teenager. He worked odd jobs before landing at Queen’s University in Ontario. By the age of 28, he was a multimillionaire. As of 2019, Musk had a net worth of $20.6 billion, according to Forbes.
But the real-life inspiration for Tony Stark is in the game for more than just money and power. His pro-environmental ambition is to create an accessible electric car so that society is no longer oil dependent. Musk's biography paints a picture of a person with unbelievable drive and perhaps the intelligence to colonize the Red Planet in this lifetime.
Musk Wrote And Sold Code For A Video Game At Just 12 Years OldVideo: YouTube
Before Musk even became a teenager, he wrote code for a space-based video game called "Blastar." He was just 12 years old at the time and still living in South Africa. The Tesla CEO pocketed a few hundred dollars by selling the code to a computer magazine. His code was not used in the game, but Musk later published it in his biography.
From there, Google software engineer Tomas Lloret created a version of the game available to play online.
Musk Took An Extremely Dangerous Job At 18 Years OldPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
When Musk moved to Canada as a teenager, he didn't have a place to stay or much money in his pocket. He lived at a second cousin's house in a small town called Swift Current. He worked several odd jobs upon his arrival; Musk was a farm hand and a logger, but he ideally wanted a job that would earn him more money.
An unemployment officer guided him to a job cleaning the boiler room of a lumber mill for $18 an hour. Musk took the gig. However, there was a reason why it paid so well. In fact, most people quit after just one week. Musk described demands of the position:
You have to put on this hazmat suit and then shimmy through this little tunnel that you can barely fit in. Then, you have a shovel and you take the sand and goop and other residue, which is still steaming hot, and you have to shovel it through the same hole you came through. There is no escape. Someone else on the other side has to shovel it into a wheelbarrow. If you stay in there for more than 30 minutes, you get too hot and die.
Musk Wishes He Didn't Have To Take The Time To EatPhoto: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License
While he was a teenager in Canada, Musk befriended a woman named Christie Nicholson. She said in an interview that Musk once told her he spent a lot of time thinking about electric cars. The pair remained friends and still chat often.
A statement Musk made to Nicholson reveals the inventor's dedication to his work: "If there was a way that I could not eat, so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal."
During College, Musk Turned His House Into A Club On The Weekends To Make Money
In 1992, Musk transferred from Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, to the University of Pennsylvania to study physics and economics. At this time, he befriended future Silicon Valley entrepreneur Adeo Ressi. Eventually, the pair moved from their dorm to a large 10-bedroom house off campus, where they made extra money by turning their house into a makeshift club and party venue on the weekends.
"It was a full-out, unlicensed speakeasy,” Ressi said. “We would have as many as 500 people. We would charge $5, and it would be pretty much all you could drink - beer and Jell-O shots and other things."
Despite the party setting, Musk often stayed sober. He said that besides the occasional vodka and Diet Coke, he doesn't like the taste of alcohol. "Somebody had to stay sober during these parties," Musk explained. "I was paying my own way through college and could make an entire month's rent in one night. Adeo was in charge of doing cool sh*t around the house, and I would run the party."
"Elon was the most straight-laced dude you have ever met," Ressi concurred. "He never drank. He never did anything. Zero. Literally nothing."