I've just learned that Kim Peek, the savant that inspired the 1988 movie Rain Man, died on Saturday of a heart attack:
Peek was born on Nov. 11, 1951. At 9 months, doctors said he was severely mentally retarded.
"They told us we should institutionalize him because he would never walk or talk," Fran Peek said. "But we refused to do that."
By 16 months, Peek demonstrated extraordinary abilities. He could read and memorize entire volumes of information.
"He could find anything he wanted to. He read all of Shakespeare, the Old and New Testaments," Fran Peek said.
An MRI later showed that his brain lacked a corpus callosum -- the connecting tissue between the left and right hemispheres. Peek said his son's brain lacked the normal filtering system for receiving information. The condition left him able to retain nearly 98 percent of everything he read, heard or watched on television. The average person only retains about 45 percent.
As both a child and adult, Peek's favorite place was the library, where he devoured books at a confounding rate. At the time of his death, Peek is believed to have committed at least 9,000 books to memory. He could recite so many gigabytes of facts that people often called him Kim-puter. NASA made him the subject of MRI-based research.
We've featured Kim Peek, the Real Rain Man on Neatorama before, in our post 10 Most Fascinating Savants in the World.