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  1. Jeff Bezos: Introduction
  2. Jeff Bezos: Early Life and Education
  3. Jeff Bezos: Success Story
  4. Jeff Bezos: Net Worth
  5. Jeff Bezos: Famous or Infamous
  6. Jeff Bezos: Most Influential Quotes

Jeff Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Jacklyn and Ted Jorgensen.

His mother was 17 when Jeff was born, and she divorced his biological father before he’d turned two. Her family stepped into the breach to help mother and child in this period. They had been in Texas for generations and had built a massive and successful 25,000-acre ranch near Cotulla, Texas.

In addition to ranching, Bezos' grandfather was a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and had supervised the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear laboratories. He was a constant presence on the ranch and, with his wide-ranging knowledge of science, a major influence on young Jeff. (For more, see: From Poverty To Power: Celebrities Who Started With Nothing.)

Even as a child, Bezos was known in the family as a smart and inventive toddler after he took a screwdriver and tried to take his crib apart. When Jeff was four his mother married Miguel Bezos, who had immigrated to the United States from Cuba when he was fifteen years old. Once in the U.S., Miguel worked his way through the University of Albuquerque. Shortly after marrying Jacklyn, he legally adopted Jeff, and the family moved to Houston, Texas, where Miguel found work as an engineer for Exxon.

Jeff attended elementary school in Houston and spent his summers at the family ranch, where he helped his grandfather in a number of tasks, including "laying pipe, vaccinating cattle and fixing windmills," as he would later relate.

The Bezos family grew, giving Jeff two half-siblings. When they were old enough to walk, Jeff built an alarm for his bedroom door to keep them away. His inventiveness and mechanical inclination expressed itself in other ways. When he was twelve, he built something called an Infinity Cube, a toy of sorts with motorized mirrors reflecting images in a way that made them seem to repeat endlessly. He’d go on to work on his own robots and other projects. The clutter in his room grew until his parents told him to move his workshop to the garage.

When Bezos was about to start high school, the family moved to Miami, Florida. At Miami Palmetto Senior High School, Bezos excelled and was invited to participate in the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida, where he won a Silver Knight Award in 1982.

He graduated as the school’s valedictorian, and a National Merit Scholar, and went on to Princeton University. With an interest in space exploration, he initially planned to study physics. But he soon gave it up.

“Mediocre theoretical physicists make no progress. They spend all their time understanding other people's progress,” he said of his prospects in the field.

So Bezos turned to his love of computers, creating a number of software programs while at the school. He found the field to his liking and graduated summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering, and a second one in computer science. He stood out from the rest of his class by his presence in honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi, as well as with his tenure as president of the school’s chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

Graduating in 1986, when the Internet was known by very few, Bezos seemed to have already had a sense of its possibilities. At the time, he turned down offers from a number of large, prestigious corporations, taking a  position at FITEL, a relatively young fiberoptic company, where he would help build computer network for international finance. (For more, see: 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Amazon.)

Two years later, he moved to Banker's Trust in New York City, creating systems to manage investment funds. Two years after that, he moved again, to D. E. Shaw & Company, where he was a computer specialist. Again, Bezos distinguished himself, becoming the company’s youngest-ever vice president in 1992, rising to senior vice president two years after that.

Although he was fast-tracked for success at D. E. Shaw, Bezos had become distracted by something. In the internet, he saw an opportunity for more than just chatroom discussions. He saw a very big business opportunity.


Jeff Bezos: Success Story
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