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Elon Musk timeline

Explore Elon Musk’s extraordinary story as a wild innovator. Walk through the key milestones of his life with our free downloadable timeline.

May 24, 2024

18 min read

Imagine a world where cars drive themselves, rockets land themselves, and humans are a multi-planetary species. Sounds like science fiction, right? For Elon Musk, it’s just another day at the office.

Elon Musk’s work has kept people’s imaginations captive through his breathtaking ideas and projects that push the boundaries of what seems possible. Whether it’s his efforts to make electric vehicles mainstream with Tesla , or his audacious plans to colonize Mars through SpaceX ’s spacecraft, Musk’s bold thinking and willingness to take on gigantic technological challenges have turned him into one of the most well-known people on this planet. 

Yet, the “tech rock star” is also one of the most controversial figures among the genius minds of our time. His bold statements, unconventional behavior, and sometimes erratic tweets have been known to spark hot debates. Despite controversy surrounding his public persona, Musk’s daring projects continue to transform our world. There’s no denying that Musk’s influence is felt far beyond the spheres of science and technology.

Let’s decipher milestone by milestone the fascinating story of Elon Musk, the man who’s turning wild dreams into reality faster than you can say “NEW.” Buckle up and get ready for a ride that’s out of this world!

Elon Musk timeline

Elon Musk’s timeline: key milestones

  • June 28, 1971: Elon Reeve Musk is born
  • 1983: Creates Blastar
  • 1989: Moves to Canada
  • 1992: Goes to Penn, Stanford
  • 1995: Founds Zip2 Corporation
  • 1999: Sells Zip2
  • 2000: Marries Justine Wilson
  • 2000: merges with Confinity to form PayPal
  • 2002: Becomes a U.S. citizen 
  • 2002: First child is born, dies
  • 2002: Sells PayPal, Founds SpaceX
  • 2002: The Musk Foundation
  • 2004: Xavier and Griffin Musk are born
  • 2004: Investment in Tesla Motors
  • 2006: Damian, Saxon, and Kai Musk are born
  • 2006: SolarCity is founded
  • 2008: Divorces first wife, Justine Musk
  • 2008: Falcon 1 reaches orbit
  • 2008: Roadster is launched
  • 2010: Marries actress Talulah Riley
  • 2010: SpaceX demonstrates reusable rockets
  • 2012: Divorces second wife, Talulah Riley
  • 2012: ISS docking
  • 2013: Remarries Talulah Riley
  • 2013: Plans for Hyperloop and battery production with Tesla
  • 2015: Co-founds OpenAI
  • 2016: Founds Neuralink and The Boring Company
  • 2016: Divorces Talulah Riley
  • 2018: Launches Falcon Heavy
  • 2018: Starts dating Grimes
  • 2020: X Æ A-12 Musk is born
  • 2020: Tesla became the world’s most valuable carmaker
  • 2020: 1st manned mission - Crew Dragon
  • 2021: Strider and Azure Musk are born
  • 2021: Exa Dark Sideræl Musk is born
  • 2021: First all-private civilian crew (Inspiration4)
  • 2022: Acquires Twitter and renames it X
  • 2023: Starship’s test flight trial (failed)
  • 2023: Techno Musk is born
  • 2024: 3rd Starship test flight success
  • 2024: Ranks third in Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Elon Musk’s timeline: detailed milestones

Elon Musk’s name has become synonymous with bold creativity. Born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1971, Musk’s journey has been nothing short of amazing. From co-founding PayPal to revolutionizing electric vehicles and space exploration, his life story reads like a gripping novel.

Let’s discover the key moments of his life, tracing Elon’s path from humble beginnings to becoming one of the wealthiest people worldwide.

June 28, 1971: Elon Reeve Musk is born

Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28 in Pretoria, South Africa. His father, Errol Musk, an electromechanical engineer and property developer, co-owned an emerald mine in South Africa, while his mother, Maye Musk, was a Canadian model. Elon has a younger brother, Kimbal James, and a younger sister, Tosca.

Despite being born into wealth, Elon had a difficult childhood. After his parents’ divorce when he was nine, he initially wanted to live with his mother and siblings but chose to stay with his father out of sympathy. Later he regretted his decision and became estranged from his father, describing his childhood as “miserable.” In an interview, Elon Musk described his father as “evil” and a “terrible human being.”

1983: Creates Blastar

At the age of 12, Musk programmed and sold a space-themed video game called Blastar for $500, showing early interest and talent in computing and technology. You can play the game online and see what Blastar is about.

1989: Moves to Canada

Seeking better opportunities, Musk emigrated to Canada, using his mother’s citizenship to simplify the process. He moved to Canada to avoid mandatory service in the South African military and to enroll at Queen’s University (aged 17). The same year, he obtained his Canadian citizenship.

1992: Goes to Penn, Stanford

In 1992, Musk left Canada to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a degree in economics and pursued a second bachelor’s in physics. After Penn, he enrolled at Stanford for a PhD in energy physics, but the timing coincided with the Internet boom, so he dropped out after two days to join the expanding tech industry.

1995: Founds Zip2 Corporation

In 1995, Musk co-founded Zip2 Corporation with his brother, Kimbal Musk. Zip2 was an online city guide, providing business directories and maps for newspapers. The company developed software that allowed newspapers to offer additional commercial services to their readers, such as online guides and directory listings with maps. This innovation helped businesses reach a broader audience through the internet. Elon secured contracts with major newspapers like The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, which strengthened the company’s profile and credibility.

1999: Sells Zip2

In 1999, Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq for nearly $300 million and co-founded This was Musk’s first significant financial success. Elon received $22 million from the sale, which he used to fund his subsequent ventures, including, an online payment company that would later become PayPal.

2000: Marries Justine Wilson

In January 2000, Elon Musk married his first wife Justine Wilson, whom he met while attending Queen’s University in Canada. The couple had 6 kids before divorcing in 2008 after 8 years of marriage.

2000: merges with Confinity to form PayPal

In 2000, Elon Musk’s online banking company merged with the money transfer firm Confinity to create PayPal. The merger combined’s online banking technology with Confinity’s money transfer capabilities to form an online payment platform. PayPal’s grew rapidly and was adopted as a facilitator of e-commerce transactions.

2002: Becomes a U.S. citizen 

In 2002, Elon Musk became a U.S. citizen, so he could pursue business opportunities in America.

2002: First child is born, dies

The same year, Elon Musk’s first child was born: a son named Nevada Alexander Musk. Tragically, Nevada passed away from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at just 10 weeks old. This devastating loss led Musk and his then-wife Justine to pursue IVF treatments, resulting in the births of twins and triplets in subsequent years.

2002: Sells PayPal, founds SpaceX

eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in eBay stock on October 3, 2002. This was shortly after PayPal first sold shares to the public. Over 70% of eBay auctions took PayPal payments at that time, around 1 out of every 4 successful eBay auctions using PayPal.

After being ousted as the CEO of PayPal, Musk became interested in space exploration.  Believing that making human life possible on Mars was imperative for the future of humanity, Musk was concerned that NASA lacked plans for a human mission to Mars. He then attended space conferences, funded private space projects, and even considered growing a plant on Mars as a publicity stunt. 

However, after failed attempts to obtain a missile for a Mars mission, he decided to build his own rocket. In the same year, using the funds from the PayPal sale, Musk founded SpaceX with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars.

2002: The Musk Foundation

In 2002, Elon Musk founded the Musk Foundation as a nonprofit organization. Its stated goals were aimed to support renewable energy, pediatric research, education, and safe artificial intelligence. From 2002 to 2018, it donated about $25 million, with almost half going to OpenAI, a company owned by Musk. According to a Daily Mail article, “the world’s second-richest man has escaped billions in tax by gifting Tesla stock to the Musk Foundation”.

2004: Xavier and Griffin Musk are born

On April 15, 2004, Elon Musk and his then-wife, Justine Musk, welcomed twin sons into their family, Xavier and Griffin.

2004: Investment in Tesla Motors 

Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, with the goal of producing electric vehicles. Elon Musk began his involvement in the electric vehicle industry by making a significant financial investment and joining the company’s board of directors as chairman.

Under Musk’s leadership, Tesla has expanded into solar energy, battery production, and self-driving tech, while he uses his public influence to advocate for Tesla’s sustainability mission. As an engineer with physics and computer science expertise, Musk directly shapes Tesla’s engineering decisions on electric vehicles, batteries, and self-driving AI, fostering a culture of rapid iteration and technological boundary-pushing.

2006: Damian, Saxon, and Kai Musk are born

On January 1, triplets Damian, Saxon, and Kai Musk were born to Elon and Justine Musk.

2006: SolarCity is founded

In 2006, Elon Musk co-founded SolarCity with his cousins Peter and Lyndon Rive, a company that provided solar energy services. The aim was to make solar energy affordable and widespread, aligning with Musk’s vision for sustainable energy. In late 2015, SolarCity stopped offering solar panel sales and installation services in Nevada after the state’s Public Utilities Commission made changes that increased monthly charges for rooftop solar customers and reduced the compensation they received for selling excess solar energy back to the grid through net metering.

2008: Divorces first wife, Justine 

In an essay that Justine wrote for Marie Claire, she recounted how their marriage got sour and how Elon said to her at one time: ‘If you were my employee,’ he said just as often, ‘I would fire you.’”

2008: Falcon 1 reaches orbit

On 28 September 2008, the small-lift launch vehicle Falcon 1 was successfully launched, becoming the first privately developed liquid-fuel rocket to reach orbit around the Earth.

2008: Roadster is launched

In 2008, Tesla launched its first production electric car, the Roadster, demonstrating the potential of EVs. The same year, Elon Musk became CEO and product architect, taking a hands-on role in steering the company’s vision to mass-produce EVs.

2010: Marries actress Talulah Riley

In 2010, Elon Musk married British actress Talulah Riley. Their relationship was quite public, and they tied the knot twice, first in 2010 and then again in 2013 after a brief separation. The couple eventually divorced in 2016.

2010: SpaceX demonstrates reusable rockets

In 2010, SpaceX made history by launching and safely bringing back its Falcon 9 rocket. This was a huge leap in space travel, showing that rockets could be reused. Going to space can be cheaper.

2012: Divorces second wife, Talulah Riley

Elon Musk and actress Talulah Riley divorce for the first time.

2012: ISS docking

In 2012, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station (ISS), showing SpaceX’s capability to transport cargo and crew to and from the ISS.

2013: Remarries Talulah Riley

Their relationship had its ups and downs, but they decided to give it another shot.

2013: Plans for Hyperloop and battery production with Tesla

Musk unveils plans for the Hyperloop high-speed transportation system and Tesla announces plans to build a Gigafactory for battery production.

2015: Co-founds OpenAI

In 2015, Elon Musk co-founded OpenAI, an organization focused on advancing artificial intelligence research. Their mission is to develop safe and beneficial AI for everyone. This initiative was based on Musk’s concerns about AI safety and the potential risks associated with AGI. The main aim is to make sure that the development of advanced AI (AGI) doesn’t turn into a frantic race where safety gets overlooked and to encourage responsible practices in the AI community.

In 2016, Elon Musk founded Neuralink, a company focused on creating implantable brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) to enhance human capabilities. Neuralink aims to connect our brains directly to computers, allowing wireless control and benefiting individuals with unmet medical needs.

The same year, Musk founded The Boring Company, which aims to revolutionize urban transportation by creating efficient tunnel networks. Tunnels provide weatherproof, invisible, expandable, safe, and fast transportation options.

2016: Divorces Talulah Riley

In March 2016, British actress Talulah Riley filed for divorce from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk for the second time. The couple had previously married in 2010, divorced in 2012, and then remarried in 2013.

2018: Launches Falcon Heavy

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully launched the first Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful operational rocket. This milestone showed SpaceX’s ability to carry large payloads into space.

2018: Starts dating Grimes

Elon Musk and Canadian musician Claire Boucher, known by her stage name of Grimes, started dating in 2018. They made their debut as a couple at the Met Gala in May 2018. Despite coming from contrasting worlds (Musk, the tech entrepreneur, and Grimes, the avant-garde artist), they found a shared wavelength during their time together (2018 to 2021).

2020: X Æ A-12 Musk is born

X Æ A-12 Musk, born on May 4, 2020, is the first son of the Musk-Grimes couple. His unconventional name initially caused quite a stir; it was originally spelled as “X Æ A-12,” but the last part was later changed to Roman numerals, making it “X Æ A-Xii.” Musk said the name is pronounced “X Ash A Twelve.” In an interview for Vanity Fair, Grimes pronounced the name “X A.I. Archangel,”, or “X” or “Little X” for short.

What the name means, as tweeted by Grimes:

  • “X, the unknown variable” [commonly used in mathematical equations. It represents enigmatic and limitless possibilities.]
  • “Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &or Artificial Intelligence)”
  • “A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft).  No weapons, no defenses, just speed.  Great in battle, but non-violent”
  • “(A=Archangel, my favorite song)”
  • “(X metal rat)”

2020: Tesla became the world’s most valuable carmaker

In July 2020, Tesla overtook Japan’s Toyota to become the world’s most valuable carmaker. Its stock reached a record high of $1,134, giving Tesla a market value of approximately $209.47 billion, which was about $4 billion more than Toyota’s market value. Tesla’s stock surged due to its leadership in the electric vehicle market, strategic model launches, strong financial performance, advancements in battery technology, inclusion in the S&P 500, Elon Musk’s influence, and market sentiment.

In 2024, Mercedes-Benz has reclaimed its position as the world’s most valuable automobile brand, with a brand value that increased by 1% to reach $59.4 billion.

2020: 1st manned mission - Crew Dragon

On November 15, 2020, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon successfully completed its inaugural manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This historic event marked the first time a private company sent astronauts to space, marking a new era of space exploration.

2021: Strider and Azure Musk are born

In November 2021, twins Strider (boy) and Azure (girl) were born to Elon Musk and Shivon Zilis via IVF. Zilis is the Director of Operations and Special Projects at Neuralink, reporting directly to Elon Musk. She initially met Musk through her involvement with OpenAI, where she served as a board member until 2023.

2021: Exa Dark Sideræl Musk is born

Exa Dark Sideræl Musk, born in December 2021, is the second child of the Musk-Grimes couple. Her unique and cosmic-inspired name combines scientific, cosmic, and literary elements. 

While her parents affectionately refer to her as “Y”, the unusual , complex name “Exa Dark Sideræl” was explained by her mother in an interview for Vanity Fair:

  • Exa refers to the supercomputing term exaFLOPS, which represents the ability to perform 1 quintillion floating-point operations per second. It’s a nod to cutting-edge computational power.
  • Dark is the “the unknown. People fear it but truly it’s the absence of photons. Dark matter is the beautiful mystery of our universe,” Grimes explained.
  • Sideræl is pronounced as “sigh-deer-ee-el,” and relates to star time and deep space time, not our relative Earth time. The name also pays tribute to Galadriel, a character from The Lord of the Rings.

2021: First all-private civilian crew (Inspiration4)

On September 15, 2021, the Inspiration4 mission launched the first all-private civilian crew into orbit aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Funded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the mission aimed to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The mission showed that space travel can be possible for regular people, not just professional astronauts.

2022: Acquires Twitter and renames it X

In 2022, Musk became Twitter’s majority shareholder by April 1 and later acquired the platform for $44 billion at the end of April. His goals included promoting free speech, introducing new features, making algorithms open source for increased trust, eliminating “bot” accounts, and verifying all users. Musk officially became the owner and CEO of Twitter in October 2022.

2023: Starship’s test flight trial (failed)

SpaceX’s first fully integrated Starship was launched on April 20, 2023, from SpaceX’s Starbase facility at Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. The Starship, standing at an impressive 394 feet (120 meters), powered by 33 first-stage Raptor engines, was the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. Although the flight ended in an intentional explosion, after multiple issues, reaching an altitude of about 24 miles (39 kilometers) was a significant achievement.

2023: Techno Musk is born

In September 2023, a review of Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk in the New York Times disclosed that Musk and Grimes had welcomed a third child named Techno. Grimes talks about Techno in a post on X: “I wish I could show u how cute little Techno is, but my priority rn is keeping my babies out of the public eye.”

Techno is the 11th child officially acknowledged to be fathered by Elon Musk so far. Looks like Elon’s really going for his own fleet to start a colony on Mars!

2024: 3rd Starship test flight success

During SpaceX’s third test flight of the Starship rocket on March 14, 2024, the megarocket reached orbital speed, with both the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket booster performing better than in previous tests. Although radio contact was lost towards the end, SpaceX celebrated the achievement, and Elon Musk expressed his excitement on X about Starship’s potential to take humanity to Mars.

2024: Ranks third in Bloomberg Billionaires Index

As of May 19, 2024, per Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Elon Musk ranks as the third wealthiest person in the world, following Bernard Arnault and Jeff Bezos.

As Elon Musk’s life story unfolds, we see a mix of brilliance and eccentricity, a reflection of his unconventional approach and ambitious vision. From rockets that defy gravity to cryptic tweets that defy reason, he stays on the edge of genius and absurdity. Love him or hate him, one thing’s certain: he remains one of the most influential, yet polarizing figures of our time.

What next? Hard to tell. For sure, right now he’s strapping himself into the next formidable quest, destination unknown.

Frequently asked questions

How did Musk make all his money? What’s next for Elon Musk? We want to know everything there is to know about the genius mind behind SpaceX rockets, Tesla electric cars, and the quest for a multi-planetary future! So many questions, so little time.

About the timeline

The timeline of Elon Musk’s life and career was crafted using Office Timeline, an intuitive and robust PowerPoint add-in that effortlessly transforms intricate data into visually compelling chronological representations.

You can download the timeline for free as an editable PowerPoint slide and add other milestones that you feel would be needed. To update the timeline and further customize it, download for free the 14-day trial of Office Timeline, which offers you access to advanced functionalities for a stunning outcome.

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