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Biography

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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 2 January 1920Petrovichi, Klimovichi, Gomel Governorate, RSFSR [now Smolensk Oblast, Russia]
Date of Death 6 April 1992New York City, New York, USA  (heart and kidney failure related to AIDS)
Birth NameIsaak Judah Ozimov
Nickname The Human Typewriter
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Isaac Asimov was born Isaak Judah Ozimov, on January 2, 1920, in Petrovichi shtetl, near Smolensk, Russia. He was the oldest of three children. His father, named Judah Ozimov, and his mother, named Anna Rachel Ozimov (nee Berman), were Orthodox Jews. Ozimov family were millers (the name Ozimov comes from the eponymous sort of wheat in Russian). In 1923 Isaac with his parents immigrated to the USA and settled in Brooklyn, New York. There his parents temporarily changed his birthday to September 7, 1919, in order to sent him to school a year earlier. Their family name was changed from Ozimov to Asimov.

Asimov was an avid reader before the age of 5. He spoke Yiddish and English at home with his parents and spoke only a few word in Russian. He began his formal education in 1925 in the New York Public School system. From 1930-1932 he was placed in the rapid advance course. In 1935 he graduated from high school, in 1939 received a B.S. and in 1941 he earned his M. Sc. in Chemistry from Columbia University. From 1942-1945 Asimov was a chemist at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard's Naval Air experimental station. After the war ended, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and was transfered to the island of Oahu and was destined to participate in the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in July 1946. He narrowly avoided that by receiving an honorable discharge in May 1946. In 1948 he completed his post-graduate studies and earned his Ph. D. in Chemistry. In 1949 he began his teaching career at the Medical School of Boston University, becoming assistant professor in 1951, and associate professor in 1955. In 1958 Asimov became a full-time writer and gave up his teaching duties because his income from his literary works was much greater than his professor's salary. He was fired, but he retained his title and later returned as a lecturer and was promoted ti the rank of full professor in 1979. Asimov was considered one of the best lecturers at Boston University.

Young Isaac Asimov was raised as a non-religious person. His parents observed the Orthodox Judaism, but did not force their belief upon young Asimov. He did not have affiliation with a temple, did not have a bar mizvah and called himself an atheist, then used the term "humanist" in his later life. He did not oppose genuine religious convictions in others but opposed superstitious or unfounded beliefs. Asimov defined his intellectual position as a Humanist and rationalist. He opposed the Vietnam war in the 1960s and was a supporter of the Democratic party. He embraced environmental issues, and supported feminism, joking that he wished women to be free "because I hate it when they charge". He was also humorous about many of his memberships in various clubs and foundations. Asimov did not approve exclusionary societies, he left Mensa after he found that many of the members were arrogant. He liked individuality and stayed in groups where he enjoyed giving speeches. As a free thinker, Asimov saw sci-fi literature serving as a pool where ideas and hypotheses are expressed with unrestricted intellectual freedom.

Young Asimov was fascinated with science fiction magazines which were sold at his parent's general store. Around the age of 11 he wrote eight chapters of a fiction about adventures of young boys in a small town. His first publication was "Marooned Off Vesta" in the Amazing Stories magazine in 1939. Asimov shot to fame in 1941 with 'Nightfall', a story of a planet where night comes once every 2049 years. 'Nightfall' has been described as one of the best science fiction stories ever written. Asimov wrote over five hundred literary works. He is credited for introducing the words "positronic", "psychohistory", and "robotics" into the English language. He penned such classics as "I, Robot" and the "Foundation" series, which are considered to be the most impressive of his writings. He also founded "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine", which became a best-selling publication.

Asimov was afraid of needles and the sight of blood. Although he had the highest score on the intelligence test he had the lowest score on the physical-conditioning test. He never learned how to swim or ride a bicycle. The author who described spaceflights suffered from fear of flying. In his entire life he had to fly only twice during his military service. Acrophobia was revealed when he took his date and first love on a roller coaster in 1940, and was terrified. This fobia complicated the logistics and limited the range over which he traveled; it also found reflection in some of his literary works. He avoided traveling long distances. Instead he enjoyed cruise ships like the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, where he occasionally entertained passengers with his science-themed talks. He impressed public with his highly entertaining speeches as well as with his sharp sense of timing; he never looked at the clock, but he spoke for precisely the time allocated. Asimov's sense of time prevented him from ever being late to a meeting. Once he discovered that his parents changed his date of birth, he insisted that the official records of his birthday be corrected to January 2, 1920, the date he personally celebrated throughout his life.

Asimov met Gertrude Blugherman on a blind date on Valentine's Day in February of 1942, they got married in July of the same year. The Asimovs had two children, son David (born in 1951), and daughter Robyn Joan (born in 1955). Asimov had known Janet Opal Jeppson since 1959. She was a psychoanalyst and also a writer of science fiction for children. Correspondence with her convinced Asimov that she was the right kind of person for him. He and Gertrude were separated in 1970, and he moved in with Janet Jappeson almost at once. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1973. That same year he and Janet Jeppson were married at Janet's home by an official of Ethical Culture Society. Asimov had no children by his second marriage.

In 1983 Asimov contracted HIV infection from a tainted blood transfusion received during a triple bypass surgery. He eventually developed AIDS and wanted to go public about his AIDS but his doctors convinced Asimov to remain silent. The specific cause of death was heart and renal failure as complications of AIDS. He died on April 6, 1992, in Boston, Massachussets, and was cremated. His ashes were scattered.

Ten years after Asimov's death, his widow, Janet Jeppson Asimov, revealed that his death was a consequence of an unfortunately contracted AIDS.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (2)

Janet Jeppson (30 November 1973 - 6 April 1992) (his death)
Gertrude Blugerman (26 July 1942 - 16 November 1973) (divorced)

Trivia (23)

No accurate records exist of his date of birth. He celebrated 2 January 1920, which was the latest possible date, but it might have been as early as 4 October 1919.
He did not speak Russian.
His family moved to the US in the last year that this was easy to do. If they had waited until the next year, they most likely would not have been allowed to leave.
When he entered school his mother gave his birthdate as 7 September 1919 so he could start a year earlier. He later insisted on correcting the record; had he not done so, he would have been considered too old when his turn for the draft came up in November 1945.
He had two children with Gertrude: David and Robyn.
His brother Stan (1929-1995) was a journalist and rose to a vice-presidency at the Long Island newspaper "Newsday".
He produced about 500 books as (co-)author or (co-)editor. No accurate count is available.
He won the Hugo and Nebula awards and received many honorary doctorates.
He drank alcohol only occasionally.
He enjoyed confined spaces and liked to work in windowless rooms.
He was afraid of air travel and generally disliked travel of any kind.
He is the only author to have a published book in every Dewey Decimal library category apart from Philosophy.
It has recently been admitted by Janet Jeppson Asimov, his wife, that Isaac acquired HIV during a bypass operation in 1983. He had kept it hidden at the behest of his doctors. It is believed that the primary cause of death wasn't AIDS, however, but kidney and heart failure.
Is famous for penning "The Three Laws of Robotics".
Was a member of Mensa.
Received Hugo Awards for his hovels "The Mule", "The Gods Themselves" and "Foundation's Edge" as well as for his novelettes "The Bicentennial Man" and "Gold". His memoirs "I. Asimov: A Memoir" also earned him a Hugo Award.
Received Nebula Awards for his novel "The Gods Themselves" and his novelette "The Bicentennial Man".
8/21/70-8/23/70: Guest of Honor at Fan Fair II science-fiction convention in Toronto, Canada.
Enjoyed a friendly rivalry with fellow science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke.
He was the first science-fiction writer to headline his own magazine.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 3, 1991-1993, pages 35-37. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
Attributed his ability to research and write about almost any subject to an ample memory. He could retain most of the things that he read or was told. He added however that his memory was not photographic, and he often had trouble with visual details.
His Foundation series won the Hugo award for "Best all-time series" in 1966, beating J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Personal Quotes (25)

Someday they'll come and find me slumped over that electric typewriter with my nose in the keys.
It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.
Intelligence is an extremely subtle concept. It's a kind of understanding that flourishes if it's combined with a good memory, but exists anyway even in the absence of good memory. It's the ability to draw consequences from causes, to make correct inferences, to foresee what might be the result, to work out logical problems, to be reasonable, rational, to have the ability to understand the solution from perhaps insufficient information. You know when a person is intelligent, but you can be easily fooled if you are not yourself intelligent.
I type 90 words per minute on the typewriter; I type 100 words per minute on the word processor. But, of course, I don't keep that up indefinitely--every once in a while I do have to think a few seconds.
When I sit down at the typewriter, I write. Someone once asked me if I had a fixed routine before I start, like setting up exercises, sharpening pencils, or having a drink of orange juice. I said, "No, the only thing I do before I start writing is to make sure that I'm close enough to the typewriter to reach the keys."
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Science-fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
Individual science-fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today - but the core of science fiction, its essence . . . has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.
Things do change. The only question is that since things are deteriorating so quickly, will society and man's habits change quickly enough?
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right.
Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.
[The Three Laws of Robotics, published 1950] One, a robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Two, a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Three, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.
If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster.
Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn't look up. Well, maybe once.
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
To insult someone we call him "bestial." For deliberate cruelty and nature, "human" might be the greater insult.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" [I found it!] but "That's funny . . . "
I don't have a modest bone in my body.
To all my gentle readers who have treated me with love for over 30 years, I must say farewell. It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys, but that's not the way it worked out. I have had a long and happy life and I have no complaints about the ending, thereof, and so farewell -- farewell.

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