Biography of Mark Zuckerberg, Creator of Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is a former Harvard computer science student who along with a few friends launched Facebook, the world's most popular social network, in February 2004. Zuckerberg also has the distinction of being the world's youngest billionaire, which he achieved in 2008 at the age of 24. He was named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine in 2010. Zuckerberg currently is the chief executive officer and president of Facebook.

Fast Facts: Mark Zuckerberg

  • Known For: Chief executive officer, president, and founder of Facebook, youngest billionaire
  • Born: May 14, 1984 in White Plains, New York
  • Parents: Edward and Karen Zuckerberg
  • Education: Phillips Exeter Academy, attended Harvard
  • Published Works: CourseWork, Synapse, FaceMash, Facebook
  • Awards: Time magazine's 2010 Man of the Year
  • Spouse: Priscilla Chan (m. 2012)
  • Children: Maxima Chan Zuckerberg, August Chan Zuckerberg

Early Life

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York, the second of four children born to dentist Edward Zuckerberg and his wife, psychiatrist Karen Zuckerberg. Mark and his three sisters, Randi, Donna, and Arielle, were raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a sleepy, well-to-do town on the eastern bank of the Hudson River.

Zuckerberg began using and programming computers in middle school, with the active support of his father. Edward taught the 11-year-old Mark Atari BASIC, and then hired a software developer David Newman to give his son private lessons. In 1997 when Mark was 13, he created a computer network for his family he called ZuckNet, which allowed the computers in his home and his father's dental office to communicate via Ping, a primitive version of AOL's Instant Messenger that came out in 1998. He also developed computer games, such as a computer version of Monopoly and a version of Risk set in the Roman Empire.

Early Computing

For two years, Zuckerberg attended public high school Ardsley and then transferred to the Phillips Exeter Academy, where he excelled in classical studies and science. He won prizes for math, astronomy, and physics. By his high school graduation, Zuckerberg could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek.

For his senior project at Exeter, Zuckerberg wrote a music player called the Synapse Media Player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user's listening habits and recommend other music. He posted it online on AOL and it received thousands of positive reviews. Both Microsoft and AOL offered to buy Synapse for $1 million and hire Mark Zuckerberg as a developer, but he turned them both down and instead enrolled at Harvard University in September 2002.

Harvard University

Mark Zuckerberg attended Harvard University, where he studied psychology and computer science. In his sophomore year, he wrote a program he called Course Match, which allowed users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students and also to help them form study groups.

He also invented Facemash, a program with the stated purpose of finding out who was the most attractive person on campus. Users would look at two pictures of people of the same sex and pick which was the "hottest," and the software compiled and ranked the results. It was an astounding success, but it bogged down the network at Harvard, people's pictures were being used without their permission, and it was offensive to people, particularly women's groups, on campus. Zuckerberg ended the project and apologized to the women's groups, saying he thought of it as a computer experiment. Harvard put him on probation.

Inventing Facebook

Zuckerberg's roommates at Harvard included Chris Hughes, a literature and history major; Billy Olson, a theater major; and Dustin Moskovitz, who was studying economics. There is no doubt that the conversational stew that occurred among them spurred and enhanced many of the ideas and projects that Zuckerberg was working on.

While at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg founded TheFacebook, an application intended to be a reliable directory based on real information about students at Harvard. That software eventually led to the February 2004 launch of Facebook.

Marriage and Family

In his second year of college at Harvard University, Zuckerberg met medical student Priscilla Chan. In September 2010, Zuckerberg and Chan began living together, and on May 19, 2012, they were married. Today, Chan is a pediatrician and philanthropist. The couple has two children, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg (born December 1, 2015) and August Chan Zuckerberg (born August 28, 2017).

The Zuckerberg family is of Jewish heritage, although Mark has stated he is an atheist. As of 2019, Mark Zuckerberg's personal wealth was estimated to be more than $60 billion. Together, he and his wife founded the philanthropic Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, to leverage technology to support the aims of science, education, justice, and opportunity. 

Mark is currently president and chief executive officer of Facebook and works at the company's office in Menlo Park, California. Other company executives include chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and chief financial officer Mike Ebersman.

Zuckerberg Quotes

"By giving people the power to share, we're making the world more transparent."

"When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place. So, what we view our role as, is giving people that power."

"The web is at a really important turning point right now. Up until recently, the default on the web has been that most things aren’t social and most things don’t use your real identity. We’re building toward a web where the default is social."

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