Born in Schenectady, New York, Otto Octavius had a turbulent upbringing. His father Torbert Octavius, a factory worker, was abusive and violent towards both Otto and his mother Mary Octavius. Young Otto's shyness and good work in school got him labeled as a "teacher's pet" and targeted as a subject for bullying. Torbert did not appreciate having a bullied son, and roared at Otto to use violence in dealing with the bullies. Mary Octavius would defend her son from Torbert's tirades, saying Otto was a gifted thinker who would use his brain to solve problems, not his fists. Due to his mother's insistence and her disgust towards men who worked in manual labor, Otto was determined not to become like his father and threw all his efforts into his education, regularly scoring top marks. Otto's devotion to study paid off with him being awarded a university scholarship. During Otto's freshman year of college, his father's death due to an industrial accident pushed Otto towards the study of, and obsession with, physical science. After graduating from college, Otto found work in an engineering firm.