Mark Zuckerberg: from a Revolutionary Vision to a Middle East Revolution
Unbeknownst to them at the time, on a Sunday night in late 2003, a select 450 Harvard University students played an unknowing but seemingly vital part in creating one of the most influential men in the world: Mark Zuckerberg. For Zuckerberg, it was the day which caused him to be called before Harvard's Administrative Board for a disciplinary hearing (Kaplan, 2003); it was also the day which helped catapult his onward trajectory towards creating Facebook, an online social network of over 500 million users valued today at approximately $82.9 billion dollars (Levy, 2011). Mark Zuckerberg was one of four children born to Edward and Karen Zuckerberg, Mark and his three sisters, Randi, Donna, and Arielle were raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Both of Zuckerberg's parents were professionals; Edward is a dentist who houses an office in the basement of the family home, and Karen was a psychiatrist who quit her job in order to be with their children and be her husbands' office manager. Unlike his peers, as a child Zuckerberg created computer games as opposed to playing them (Vargas, 2010). His most well known is a video game based off the Hasbro game Risk, where players fight against Julius Caesar and other figures from the Ancient Roman Empire striving to obtain world domination. By the time he hit middle school, this hobby developed into computer programming. Edward encouraged his son's interest and taught him about Atari BASIC computer programming; he then hired David Newman, a software developer, who came to tutor Zuckerberg in computer programming once a week. At age 12, Zuckerberg created his first professional application, Zucknet. The application was created for his father's dentistry business and it was a messaging program that facilitated communication between the employees. Zuckerberg attended Ardsley High School his freshman and sophomore years, but graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, a highly regarded preparatory school in New Hampshire. During high school, Zuckerberg learned French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek, and he was also named MVP of the fencing team when he was at Exeter. It was while brainstorming for ideas for his senior project that Zuckerberg and a classmate, Adam D'Angelo, created Synapse Media Player, which is a program that uses artificial intelligence to determine a user's music preferences and creates a playlist for them. "The playlist ran out on my computer, and I thought, 'You know, there's really no reason why my computer shouldn't just know what I want to learn next. So that's what we made,” (Grynbaum, 2004). Many companies, the most prominent being Microsoft and AOL, offered over a million dollars to buy Synapse and hire Zuckerberg, but he and his classmate turned them down. Although he didn't make a financial profit from the creation of Synapse, Zuckerberg had made a name for himself in the programming world. In the fall of 2002, Zuckerberg enrolled as a psychology and computer science major at Harvard University. He joined the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi. It was at a party thrown by his fraternity where he met his current girlfriend, Priscilla Chan. The first week of his sophomore year Zuckerberg invented CourseMatch, which was an application that enabled Harvard students to select classes they wanted to take based upon who was already enrolled in them. His second invention occurred later that semester, on a lonely Sunday night after he'd had a fight with his girlfriend. In an attempt to preoccupy himself, Zuckerberg created the website facemash.com, which was the precursor of great things to come. Facemash.com randomly selected the ID photos of two female Harvard students and asked viewers to vote on which student they thought was more attractive. Facemash.com was only up for four hours before Harvard's computer services department detected the flood of traffic to the site and terminated Zuckerberg's...
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