Super-Memory of Famous People

Great Commanders had phenomenal memory. Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great knew all their soldiers by sight (about 25000 people). Napoleon read a book on Roman Civil Law as a lieutenant. Twenty years later he quoted from it. He also knew many of his soldiers by sight and remembered their character, faults, and achievements.

Socrates knew all 19000 Athenians. Seneca could repeat 2000 random words.

A great portrait of Lincoln belongs to an unknown artist. A devoted admirer from New Jersey once met the president and drew this portrait from memory in order to express his condolences after Lincoln’s murder.

Beethoven wrote beautiful music even though he was deaf and Mozart was able to record a long and difficult music piece he had heard only once.

Academician A. Ioffe remembered the whole logarithmical table and chess player A. Aliohin was able to keep in mind up to 30-40 simultaneous blindfold chess games.

A. Pushkin’s brother, Lev Pushkin, saved the 5th chapter of Eugene Onegin due to his phenomenal memory. A. Pushkin had lost it on his way and wrote his brother about the misfortune. Soon he received the full text of the missing chapter, even though Lev had only heard and read it once.

Upside of Super-Memory


On February, 28, 2009, Andrei Slesarchuk from Lviv, Ukraine, entered the Guinness Book of Records having set new world record in “the fastest memorization” and “the longest sequence of digits memorization” nominations. In 2 minutes Andrei memorized 5100 digits and kept 1 million pi characters, which is 100 times more than the previous record.

He had this extraordinary ability since childhood. At the age of 13 he graduated from school and went to medical university when he was 14.

It is important to note that Andrei is not only able to memorize random characters. He leads a successful life, has 2 medical degrees after studying in Moscow and St- Petersburg, passed his MPhil and Ph.D. defense and works as a medical consultant in a prestigious Lviv Medical Center.

Downside of Super-Memory


Russian scientist Alexander Luria described the features of phenomenal memory in 1969. Mr. Chereshnevsky could memorize large amounts of information including the smallest details. He remembered the whole pages of words or charts containing only numbers for ages. Chereshnevsky had a great visual thinking, so he could turn any information into an image. However, this ability had its downside — his reading was very slow and wore him out, because the emerging images screened the gist of the text. He also had difficulties forgetting the information.

Super-Memory — Around the World

  • Born in the USA; Eira Colbert aged 10 in 1814 could raise numbers to the 16th power and extracted roots. He gradually lost these abilities as he grew up and expanded the scope of his interests.
  • In England William Klein figured out the square root of 555555555555 faster than computer. Cline said: “745356”, and number 745355,9924 flashed on the screen only several seconds later.
  • Syrian Khan Kuze appeared in newspapers due to his ability to multiply 20-digit numbers.
  • Shakutani Davey from India competed with a computer to extract the roots of numbers. She could easily extract the 6th root of 9-digit numbers, which didn’t save her from failing her exams for a Bachelor’s degree twice.
  • In France, Lille, in the presence of authoritative jury, mathematics teacher Maurice Daber solved arithmetic problems 3 times as fast as the computer.

Unique Autobiographical Memory

Bob Petrella from Los Angeles remembers his life to the smallest detail since the age of 5. Now he is 58. He remembers the dates of all events of his life that mean at least something to him, the days he met each of his friends, their phone numbers and what they were talking about over the phone. He remembers all New Year parties and all of his birthdays in the last 53 years.

According to Bob, it is easy for him to memorize the things he is interested in. This is why he remembers all of the football games he watched as well as their final score. He can name all Oscar winners since 1971 and the date of any event that received media coverage.

Bob Petrella discovered his abilities when he was a kid. He could easily pass any test without reviewing the things he had learned in class.

According to experts, this man has a unique autobiographical memory. Overall, there are 4 similar cases known to the world.