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Sultan of Stuff, Marshall Brain '83
Sultan of Stuff, Marshall Brain '83 
By Clorinda Valenti
Marshall Brain ’83 is a self-described “curious guy.” From a young age, Brain (yes, it is his real name) has wondered about the inner workings of everything from a car engine to his father’s electronic garage door opener.

Brain has turned that boundless curiosity into a successful, award-winning media company called HowStuffWorks Inc. The Web site “” is the flagship of the operation and was named by Time magazine as one of the “50 Best Websites” for 2002.

The site features more than 650 articles that explain the inner workings of everything from diamonds to chocolate to a rotary engine, as well as hypnosis, cell phones, home appliances, audio electronics, holiday traditions—you name it and Brain or one of his staff members is researching and writing about that topic right now. Visitors even can learn how the site itself works.

Brain’s Raleigh, N.C.-based company also offers: HowStuffWorks Express, a magazine designed to bring science, technology, and the Internet into classrooms that reaches almost 1 million students and teachers.
  • Two books published last year: Marshall Brain’s How Stuff Works and How Much Does the Earth Weigh? Two new books, More How Stuff Works and What If?, will be published in the fall.
  • TV and radio spots syndicated to stations around the country.
  • Articles syndicated to newspapers, magazines, and Web sites including The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.
  • Consulting services to help companies communicate their products to consumers, train internal sales teams, and produce training materials.

“Our company’s core competency is explaining things clearly,” Brain says.

Illustration by Jon Conrad.
Photo by Chris Hildreth.


Rensselaer Magazine: June 2002
President's View Your Mail From the Archives Hawk Talk Class Notes Features
Front Page At Rensselaer Milestones
In Memoriam Making a Difference Staying Connected
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