Edward was born to a middle class family in Gotham City to the overbearing father Frank and nervous docile mother Carrie. His father always wanted him to become tougher by getting him into things like sports so he could be a "real man" as Edward was always much more interested in his studies and books. Eventually becoming obsessed with the power of the mind over that of the body. He loved to prove how smart he was to gain a sense of importance and being special by playing mindgames, that often involved Riddles, with people.
He grew up to be very eccentric and socially awkward. Making no friends, but becoming extremely intelligent. He wanted a way to escape what he saw as an extremely cruel world. Escaping into the lands of cinema and television and dreamed up a machine that would allow for that kind of escape. In college he met a kindred spirit named Jervis Tetch, a student who hailed from Britain. He was intrigued by the idea for Nygma's machine and decided they would become partners. He also developed and admiration for the Wayne family's success, status, and wealth. Bruce Wayne in particular becoming his idol. Obsessed with achieving that type of status as well as sense of importance.
Awhile after graduating from college they both became neural scientists for Wayne Enterprises because of Nigma's obsession with Wayne, as well as using it to get the resources for his machine. And there they began production on the machine that came to be known as The Box. Working under the Wayne Enterprises businessman Fred Stickley. Eventually Bruce Wayne did a personal inspection of their department where Edward decided to take the opportunity to meet his idol and try to show him the Box. He managed to, and while Bruce was interested he found the idea of beaming TV signals into the human brain to be questionable and raised "too many questions." Nygma felt betrayed by his idol and swore to get his revenge by becoming "better" than him.