Kim Peek … the original Rain Man … 1951


Kim Peak (Picture Wikipedia/GFDL)

Kim Peak (1kimpeek-da6b2112fb293e548a47e9392c91274660d0769e-s6-c30951-2009) was an American savant. He had an exceptional memory, but also experienced social problems, possibly resulting  from a developmental disability related to congenital brain abnormalities. He was the inspiration for the character of Raymond Babbit, played by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man. He died of a heart attack at home on December 19, 2009, aged just 58.


From an early age he read books, memorized them, and then placed them upside down on the shelf to show that he had finished reading them, a practice he maintained all his life. He could speed through a book in about an hour and remember everything he had read, memorizing vast amounts of information in a wide range of subjects.


When he attended school, aged 7, he was expelled for being uncontrollable after just 7 minutes in class. Thereafter he was tutored at home and completed the high school curriculum four years ahead of schedule. When he was 18 he was hired by a firm to manage the payroll of 160 people, a task he performed in a few hours a week without the need of a calculator. In his early 30s he was laid off because the management had decided to computerized the payroll. It took two full-time accountants, plus the computer, to replace him.

It has been said that he could accurately recall the contents of at least 12,000 books. He lived in Murray, Utah and spent a considerable amount of his time reading at the Salt Lake City Library. The Rainman movie led to a number of requests for personal appearances which increased his personal confidence. He enjoyed approaching strangers and showing them his talent for calendar calculations by telling them on which day of the week they were born and what news items were on the front page of major newspapers. He also appeared on television. Click here to view a short piece courtesy of Youtube. (Takes a few seconds to load)

Kim Peek


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