John von Newmann

John von Newmann was a child prodigy who could divide eight-digit numbers in his head by age six and learned calculus by age eight. He developed the computer architecture that virtually all computing devices use today.

After immigrating to the U.S. in 1933, Von Neumann was hired, along with Albert Einstein, by the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., a nonprofit research institute set up by the Bamberger family with profits from their department stores. The I.A.S. proved to be the perfect intellectual playground for Von Neumann’s boundless genius. He threw himself with enthusiasm into one intractable problem after another, ranging from the abstract mathematics of quantum mechanics to the practical problems of weather prediction, hydrology and the patterns of artillery fire.