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Elon Musk Says Enjoying Video Video games Helped Make Him a Billionaire

How did Elon Musk first get eager about programming? By taking part in video video games. The Tesla and SpaceX founder talked about his love of video video games and the way they began him on his profession path at a online game conference final 12 months. 

At this time, we could not consider Musk primarily as a programmer. He is the founding father of three corporations taking up right now’s most difficult engineering issues: Constructing reasonably priced electrical automobiles with nice vary, colonizing Mars, and tunneling below the worst city site visitors. This week, he additionally grew to become the world’s third richest particular person, beating out Mark Zuckerberg after Dow Jones Indices introduced that Tesla shall be added to the S&P 500 index subsequent month and the corporate’s share worth surged. None of it will have occurred if Musk hadn’t discovered how one can code, as a result of he liked video video games a lot.

It began when he was about 10 and his father took him on a visit from South Africa (the place Musk was born) to the USA. “It was a very superior expertise as a result of the inns all had arcades. So my primary factor was, after we went to a brand new lodge, was to go to the arcades,” Musk advised astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson on an episode of Tyson’s radio speak present Star Speak a couple of years in the past. 

“I assumed I might make my very own.”

Video video games are “extremely partaking,” Musk mentioned. “They made me need to learn to program computer systems. I assumed I might make my very own video games.” Musk managed to amass an early Commodore laptop which got here with a handbook that defined how one can program in BASIC, an early laptop language. He absorbed the information by studying the handbook, just about the identical method he used to train himself how one can construct rockets virtually 20 years later.

At age 12, having mastered BASIC, Musk bought the code for his PC sport Blastar to a PC journal for roughly $500. Eleven years later, he and his brother based Zip2, an organization that supplied metropolis guides, maps and telephone book for the newspaper business, and which they ultimately bought to Compaq for $307 million. Musk says he did a lot of the coding for Zip2, principally at night time when the software program wasn’t in use.

Musk used the funds from that sale to co-found X.com, which after a merger, ultimately grew to become PayPal, bought to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. That prime-profile sale and the tens of millions Musk earned as PayPal’s greatest shareholder gave him each the funds and the identify recognition to get rocket scientists and automotive engineers to take him severely as he got down to construct spaceships and electrical automobiles. In different phrases, the domino Musk pushed over when he first fell in love with video video games in these lodge arcades and determined to create one himself led on to his phenomenal success right now.

This would seemingly come as a shock to the tens of millions of oldsters who’ve harangued their youngsters to place down the controller and speak to their relations, exit and get some recent air, or typically discover a extra constructive solution to spend their time. And a few analysis means that most individuals who abandon college or work to play video video games aren’t doing themselves any favors. However in case you — or your little one — are the kind of one who goes from taking part in a sport to eager to create one, then spending hours on video video games could also be a a lot smarter solution to spend time than you would possibly assume. Simply ask the world’s third richest man.

The opinions expressed right here by Inc.com columnists are their very own, not these of Inc.com.

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