Jeffrey P. Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His mother was still in her teens, and her marriage to his father lasted little more than a year. She remarried when Jeffrey was four. Jeffrey's stepfather, Mike Bezos, was born in Cuba; he escaped to the United States alone at age 15, and worked his way through the University of Albuquerque. When he married Jeffrey's mother, the family moved to Houston, where Mike Bezos became an engineer for Exxon. Jeffrey's maternal ancestors were early settlers in Texas, and over the generations had acquired a 25,000-acre ranch at Cotulla. Jeffrey's grandfather was a regional director of the Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque. He retired early to the family ranch, where Jeffrey spent most of the summers of his youth, working with his grandfather at the enormously varied tasks essential to the operation.
After graduation, Jeff Bezos found employment on Wall Street, where computer science was increasingly in demand to study market trends. His went to work at Fitel, a start-up company that was building a network to conduct international trade. He stayed in the finance realm with Bankers Trust, rising to a vice presidency. At D. E. Shaw, a firm specializing in the application of computer science to the stock market, Bezos was hired as much for his overall talent as for any particular assignment. While working at Shaw, Jeff met his wife, Mackenzie, also a Princeton graduate. He rose quickly at Shaw, becoming a senior vice president, and looked forward to a bright career in finance, when he made a discovery that changed his life -- and the course of business history. They set up shop in a two-bedroom house, with extension cords running to the garage. Jeff set up three Sun microstations on tables he'd made out of doors from Home Depot for less than $60 each. When the test site was up and running, Jeff asked 300 friends and acquaintances to test it. The code worked seamlessly across different computer platforms. On July...
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