December 09, 2002
How Eugene Volokh paid for his education

Here's an interesting man who had an interesting education:

Like most immigrants, the Volokhs had to begin again in the U.S. Vladimir eventually worked his way back up from computer operator to programming and often took his sons to work during school vacations.

By the time Eugene was 12, he was put on the payroll at the company his father worked for. That same year, he adapted an accounting utility program Vladimir had written for more generalized use. Some of the sizeable profits from this new product funded Anne Volokh's Movieline magazine.

"I have heard, 'Oh, the Volokhs got so successful so fast, it must have been drug money,'" laughs Anne. "But actually it was the software."

Eugene continued earning money as a programmer all through college, and in fact is still a partner in the small software company he and his father started.

He entered UCLA as a freshman when he was 12, usually getting dropped off by his father in the morning, then taking the bus to his programming job in the afternoon. Volokh says that entering college and the work world while still a child wasn't really a huge adjustment, though his boss did at one point have to ask him to please stop all that running through the halls -- people on the floor below were complaining about noise.

This reminds me of something I remember reading in a Peter Drucker book once, which is that computers have provided something never provided before by our civilisation: paying jobs for mathematicians besides being maths teachers.

Eugene Volokh, however, does now teach, but law rather than maths. This is his blog.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:11 PM
Category: Technology
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