Asimov was born in the village of Petrovichi, in the Soviet Union, on January 2, 1920, the first child of Judah Asimov and Anna Rachel Berman Asimov. The Asimovs emigrated to the United States in 1923 and settled in Brooklyn, where Asimov’s father owned a series of candy stores. Asimov taught himself to read at the age of five and was regarded as a child prodigy, both for his ability to learn and for his prodigious memory.
After skipping several grades and completing junior high school in two years instead of three, Asimov enrolled in the Boys’ High School of Brooklyn, a selective, prestigious school noted for mathematics. He entered at age twelve and a half, two and a half years younger than his fellow students, and continued to be sheltered from the lives of his fellows, particularly girls.
Asimov then entered Columbia University, intending to become a doctor. After he had to kill and dissect a cat in anatomy class, he switched to chemistry and after graduation continued the study of chemistry at Columbia. He had obtained his M.S. and was on his way to his Ph.D. when the United States entered World War II. Asimov interrupted his studies to work at the U.S. Navy yards in Philadelphia (with Robert A. Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp). At that time he married Gertrude Blugerman, with whom he would have two children: David, born in 1951, and Robyn, born in 1955. He served less than a year in the Army before resuming his studies at Columbia, earned his Ph.D. in 1948, and after a year of postgraduate work accepted a...
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