Jimmy Wales, the NASA neighbor who left his doctorate out of boredom and created Wikipedia

Behind a great product like Wikipedia there is a great creator. His name is little known, because he has preferred to stay away from the spotlight, but the story of Jimmy Wales is as fascinating as that of any other tech mogul.

Creating one of the 10 most visited internet sites in the world requires a lot of time, experience, previous experiences. Students, teachers and Internet users should thank Wales every day, the NASA neighbor who dropped out of Finance just before getting his Ph.D..

Jimmy Wales was born on August 7, 1966 in Huntsville, a city in the state of Alabama, in the United States, according to the report on the website of TN. Interestingly, he was a neighbor of NASA: a base of the US space agency was near his house, from which you could see how they developed the rockets that took humans to the Moon for the first time in 1969.

The report cites his statements in this regard, admitting that being a neighbor of that NASA base inspired himeither: “My house was so close to the base that the windows shook when the rockets were tested. Being so close to a cutting-edge job in science and engineering was an incredibly inspiring experience.”.

Wales, a guy with a fortune, was able to never have to work again, after earning a lot of money in the stock market. The boy who studied in an exclusive school with only four classmates never imagined that he would drop out of university, he would earn millions of dollars to be happy for the rest of his life and then would create a monster called Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales was recognized by Times magazine in 2006, in the category of Scientists and Thinkers, as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet. More than deserved after the mark he left, a huge mark after a lucky road.

The formation of Jimmy Wales

Wales was named after his father, Jimmy, a grocery store manager, and was also raised by his mother Doris, a private school teacher run by his grandmother Emma.

School photo of Jimmy Wales.

After studying with only four classmates, he attended Randolph School, which at the time was very expensive for his family, who prioritized the training of young Jimmy.

At the age of 16, he entered Auburn University., where he became a graduate in Finance. Shortly thereafter, he entered the University of Alabama Finance Ph.D. funding program, but he never wrote the thesis to finish that postgraduate degree due to “boredom”.

Wales began working in 1994 as director of research at Chicago Options Associates. He did until 2000, until he became a millionaire with the operations he carried out on interest rates and currency fluctuations. She made enough money on the stock market to live with her partner for the rest of her lives.

What did you do with the money? He created Nupedia

Before striking it rich, Wales created in 1996 the Bomis, a search engine aimed at young people, which he focused on when his coffers were filled with money. Few remember it, but that search engine was associated with content for adults because photos and videos of models with little clothing circulated.

Then, in March 2000, he formed an alliance with the philosopher Larry Sanger to found Nupedia. Yes, Nupedia, not to be confused with Wikipedia.

Older people will remember this peer-reviewed free online encyclopedia, which had the problem of trying to match the quality of the best professional encyclopedias, forcing the proofreaders to go through an extensive data verification process.

This is what the old Nupedia online encyclopedia looked like.

Nupedia lasted until September 2006, at which point it disappeared, product of the arrival of the greatest creation of Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales, opening Wikipedia on a laptop.

The success of Wikipedia

Larry Sanger met Ben Kovitz, a programmer, in early 2001 who introduced him to the Wiki concept. He defined it as a system that allows users to create and edit content directly from the website quickly and easily.

It was renamed Wikipedia after the experts in charge of the edition threatened to leave the project because they did not want unprofessional content to be mixed. Five days after implementation, the masterpiece was born.

Screenshot of the Wikipedia website

It only took weeks for Wikipedia to surpass Nupedia articleswith the help of a huge community of volunteer editors and proofreaders, who established self-regulatory mechanisms and strategies to detect errors in content.

Over time, Wales began to accept donations, a method of financing that remains in force so as not to place advertising on the pages of Wikipedia, one of the 10 most visited Internet sites in the world, edited in almost 300 languages ​​and more than 50 million of articles reviewed by 200 thousand volunteer editors.

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