“In the aftermath of [Facemash]…I was just thinking to myself—not only is a facebook something that would be very useful, but it’s something that I don’t want to have on my name as being the person who postponed it,” he explains.
Zuckerberg had already designed a site called Coursematch earlier in the year, which allowed students to see other students who were enrolled in their classes. The idea found later found its way into thefacebook.com, along with a host of others that he had been playing around with.
“That’s the kind of stuff I do—small little projects, and eventually they all fit together,” Zuckerberg says.
FAVORITE MUSIC: WHATEVER MY COMPUTER PLAYS FOR ME
Hailing from the Westchester town of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. (“I try to pretend I’m from the city but I’m not”), Zuckerberg attended local Ardsley High School until his junior year, when he transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy.
“[Ardsley] didn’t have a lot of computer courses or a lot of the higher math courses,” Zuckerberg says.
He’d been programming since receiving his first computer in the sixth grade.
The first significant program Zuckerberg ever designed was a game based on the living room classic Risk.
“It was centered around the ancient Roman Empire,” he says. “You played against Julius Caesar. He was good, and I was never able to win.”
C++ For Dummies was his first introduction to formal programming, but Zuckerberg says he learned most of what he knows from talking with friends.
His reasons for attending Exeter, however, were originally non-electronic.
For Zuckerberg, the school’s major selling point was its Latin program. The current computer science concentrator originally intended to study classics at Harvard. He would have gone ahead with his plan, too—that is, if he hadn’t stumbled upon an idea that would nearly make him a millionaire.
In his last semester of high school, Zuckerberg was sitting with friends mulling over what to do for his independent project—an Exeter rite of passage.
“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,’” he explains. “So that’s what we made.”
Synapse was born.
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