Arthur C. Clarke was born in the village of Minehead, Somerset, England, on December 16, 1917, the son of Charles Wright Clarke and Norah Mary Willis Clarke. Even as a boy, he was interested in science and writing. In 1931, he read Last and First Men (1930) by Olaf Stapledon, a book that changed his life. A strong advocate of space exploration, he joined the British Interplanetary Society in 1935, serving as its chair from 1946 to 1947 and again from 1950 to 1953.
Clarke did well in mathematics but could not afford to attend a university. Instead, he took the civil service examination and in 1936 found employment as an assistant auditor in His Majesty’s Exchequer and Audit Department. He continued to read widely and began to publish short fiction in 1937.
From 1941 to 1946, Clarke served in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Because of his poor eyesight, he was unable to qualify for pilot training. He was sent to electronics and radar school and worked as a technical officer on the first trials of ground control approach radar. He also served as a radar instructor. A technical paper that he wrote describing the possibility of communications satellites was published in the October, 1945, issue of Wireless World, an engineering journal. After leaving the RAF in 1946, he received a grant to enter King’s College, London; he received a degree in physics and mathematics in 1948. From 1949 to 1950, he was an assistant editor for...
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