Jacobi was born of Ashkenazi Jewish parentage in Potsdam on 10 December 1804. He was the second of four children of banker Simon Jacobi. His elder brother Moritz von Jacobi would also become known later as an Engineer and Physicist. He was initially home schooled by his uncle Lehman, who instructed him in the classical languages and elements of mathematics. In 1816, the twelve-year-old Jacobi went to the Potsdam Gymnasium, where students were being taught classical languages, German history as well as mathematics. As a result of the good education received from his uncle, as well as his own remarkable abilities, after less than half a year Jacobi was moved to the senior year despite his young age. However, as the University was not accepting students younger than 16 years old, he had to remain in the senior class until 1821. He used this time to advance his knowledge, showing interest in all subjects, including Latin and Greek, philology, history and mathematics. During this period he also made the first attempts at research trying to solve the quintic equation by radicals.