Allen Kurzweil was born on December 16, 1960 in New York City, New York, United States. He is the son of Robert Kurzweil, a mechanical engineer, and Edith (Weiss) Kurzweil. His parents are a Viennese Jewish refugees. Allen spent his first five years in Milan, Italy. His father died when young Allen was five, and he and his mother moved back to the United States. His mother then met and married William Phillips, co-founder and then editor-in-chief of Partisan Review.