Marshall Brain

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Marshall David Brain (born May 17, 1961[1]) is an American author, public speaker, and entrepreneur. A college instructor and computer programmer, Brain is the founder of HowStuffWorks.


Marshall Brain was born in Santa Monica, California.[1] He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York[1] in 1983[2] with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.[3] He was a member of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. Brain earned a master's degree in computer science from North Carolina State University (NCSU).[1]


Before founding HowStuffWorks, Marshall taught in the computer science department at NCSU for six years.[1] He has written computer programming manuals and has run a software training and consulting company.[4]

Marshall founded the website in 1998[5][6] and ran the site until 2002, when he sold it to The Convex Group, an Atlanta-based investment company owned by former Web MD CEO Jeff Arnold, for around $1 million.[7] In 2007, Convex sold it to Discovery Communications for $250 million.[1] Since 2008, a television documentary with the same name has aired on the Discovery Channel.

Beliefs and interests[edit]

Brain maintains a website with, among others, essays on transhumanism and robots and an online science fiction novel on that topic, Manna. Brain argues in his Robotic Nation series that automation will lead to structural unemployment, requiring a basic income guarantee[8] or guaranteed minimum income.[9][10]

Marshall Brain is a naturalist. His websites Why Won't God Heal Amputees? and God is Imaginary reflect his skepticism of a single god that is omnipotent and omnibenevolent. He has created and posted some widely viewed online videos on this subject.

Personal life[edit]

He resides in Cary, North Carolina with his wife Leigh[6] and four children.[4] He serves on the North Carolina advisory board of DonorsChoose.

Books by Marshall Brain[edit]

Title Publisher ISBN
Marshall Brain's MORE How STUFF Works John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-7645-6711-X
What If? John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-7645-6657-1
Marshall Brain's How Stuff Works John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-7645-6518-4
How Much Does the Earth Weigh? John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-7645-6519-2
The Teenager's Guide to the Real World BYG Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-9657430-3-9
Win32 System Services Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-022557-6
Visual C++ 2 Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-305145-5
Using Windows NT Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-091977-2
Motif Programming: The Essentials... and More Digital Press ISBN 1-55558-089-0
The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches BYG Publishing, Inc ASIN B00VU1DM6C
How "God" Works Sterling Ethos ISBN 978-1454910619


Television appearances[edit]

  • Factory Floor with Marshall Brain (2008) – Host
  • Who Knew? With Marshall Brain (2008) – Host
  • The Oprah Winfrey Show (2006) – Himself


  1. ^ a b c d e f Official website of Marshall Brain
  2. ^ "Sultan of Stuff", Rensselaer Magazine, June 2002.
  3. ^ CNN interview with Kyra Phillips, CNN, August 15, 2003.
  4. ^ a b Manjoo, Farhad. "Welcome to the machine?", Salon, 18 September 2003.
  5. ^ "50 Best Websites: Information and Reference: HowStuffWorks",, 2002.
  6. ^ a b Guernsey, Lisa. "For One Web Site, Some Explaining to Do", The New York Times, 24 May 2001.
  7. ^ "HowStuffWorks sold to vulture fund",, 2002.
  8. ^ Brain, Marshall, Why and How Should We Build a Basic Income for Every Citizen?. 
  9. ^ Brain, Marshall, Robotic Nation. 
  10. ^ Glasner, Joanna (2003-08-05), "How robots will steal your job", Wired magazine. 

External links[edit]