Larry Page was born on March 26, 1973, in East Lansing, Michigan, the hometown to Michigan State University. Larry’s parents were dedicated and devoted to both Larry and his older brother, Carl Jr. They encouraged creativity and intellectual conversation, and they valued nothing more than a good education.
Larry’s father, Dr. Carl Page, was the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend college. A gifted mathematician, Carl studied engineering and was a pioneer in the field of computer science, earning one of the first computer science PhDs from the University of Michigan. Carl went on to teach computer science at Michigan State University.
Larry’s mother, Gloria Page, was passionate about computer science as well. She taught computer programming at Lyman Briggs College, a residential college at Michigan State University.
As a child, Larry had the same distinctive characteristics he does today—short, straight black hair, thick, dark eyebrows, and a big, toothy smile. Larry attended the Okemos Montessori School in Okemos, Michigan, where he had the freedom to self-direct his education and explore school subjects independently. The environment was perfect for quirky, quiet, and curious Larry.
Back at home, Larry was immersed in a world of computers. He explained, “I was really lucky that my father was a computer science professor, which was unusual for someone my age.” One day in 1978, Carl Page purchased and brought home the family’s first computer, an Exidy Sorcerer. Larry remembers, “It was huge, and it cost a lot of money, and we couldn’t afford to eat well after that.” As a young boy, Larry began experimenting with the Exidy Sorcerer. Larry’s brother, Carl Jr., recalled, “One of the early things I remember Larry doing was typing Frog and Toad Together into his computer, one word at a time.”
As Larry got older, he became even more interested in computers. He started doing his homework on the family’s latest computer and printing it out. His teachers were both amazed and confused—no child had ever done that before. When Carl Jr. came home from the University of Michigan with college-level computer homework, he let nine-year-old Larry help him try to solve it. Larry and Carl Jr. were a curious duo, often finding items in their house and taking them apart just to figure out how they worked. One day, Larry and Carl took apart all the family’s power tools.
In addition to occasionally deconstructing power tools, Larry read books, as well as the computer, science, and technology magazines left around by his parents. When Larry was twelve years old, he read a book that brought him to tears, and would go on to make a big impact in his future. The book was about the brilliant inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla. Tesla was best known for inventing the alternating-current electrical system that’s used today. However, Tesla never figured out how to create a sustainable business around his inventions and died with little money, fame, or success. Moved by Tesla’s tragic ending, Larry began to understand how innovation alone is not enough. The key to success was to combine innovative technologies with a successful business strategy.
Larry attended East Lansing’s MacDonald Middle School and then East Lansing High School. When he wasn’t working hard at school or tinkering with computers, Larry enjoyed music. He played the saxophone and spent two summers at Interlochen Center for the Arts studying music composition. Over time, Larry developed a passion for time, rhythm, and speed in music, which eventually carried over to the way he thought about computing.
After graduating high school in 1991, Larry attended the University of Michigan. Larry received excellent grades and earned several academic honor awards. He was president of the University of Michigan chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, a national honor society for computer engineering students. Larry was also a member of the University of Michigan’s solar car team, the Maize and Blue, and became interested in the future of transportation. At one point, Larry shared his vision for a monorail system that would run between buildings and campuses at the university. Although the monorail was never built, Larry did become a minor celebrity on campus after he built a working ink-jet printer entirely out of LEGO bricks. By the time Larry graduated from the University of Michigan, his only work experience was helping out with the donut stand to raise money for Eta Kappa Nu.