January 2, 1920: Science fiction legend Isaac Asimov is born.
On this day in history in 1920, science fiction luminary, educator, and humorist Isaac Asimov was born. Considered one of the three great masters of science fiction and author of the foundational Three Laws of Robotics, Asimov was also one of the world’s most prolific writers, credited with publishing more than 500 books and as many as 90,000 letters, postcards, and pamphlets in his lifetime. In honor of the 93rd anniversary of his birth, here’s 13 facts you didn’t know about Isaac Asimov.
- Worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard’s Experimental Air Station during World War II alongside fellow sci fi legends L. Sprague de Camp and Robert A. Heinlein.
- Met his first wife on a blind date on Valentine’s Day, 1942. They were married five and a half months later.
- Credited with introducing the words positronic and robotics into the English language.
- Was afraid of flying, needles and the sight of blood, but enjoyed small, enclosed spaces.
- The archive of his personal papers at Boston University takes up 464 boxes on 232 feet of shelf space.
- A life-long Gilbert and Sullivan fan, Asimov was known to show off his own signing voice at public events.
- His father owned several candy stores in Brooklyn. The stores were open from 6 AM to 1 AM, seven days a week.
- In addition to his work in science fiction, Asimov wrote volumes of non-fiction on topics ranging from Shakespeare, Milton, astronomy, mathematics, the Bible, chemistry, and history. He is published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System.
- Taught himself to read at age 5, wrote his first story at 11, finished high school at 16, and was published at 19.
- Died in 1992 from complications of AIDS after contracting HIV from an infected blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery nine years earlier.
- After all five of Asimov’s applications for medical school were rejected, he was initially rejected from the graduate program in chemistry at Columbia as well. He went on to complete an MA in chemistry in 1941 and a PhD in biochemistry in 1948.
- His daily routine included sitting down at the typewriter by 7:30 AM and working until 10:00 PM each night. He completed over 100 books from 1978 – 1984 alone.
- Wrote several compilations of dirty limericks, beginning with Lecherous Limericks in 1975.
And because I love you, you know I wouldn’t leave you without at least one naughty limerick, this one written by Mr. Asimov himself. Enjoy!
There was a sweet girl of Decatur
Who went to sea on a freighter.
She was screwed by the master
– An utter disaster –
But the crew all made up for it later.