Initial stages of indium tin oxide (ITO) growth on a polished Si substrate upon magnetron sputtering were studied experimentally using in-situ x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements. The presence of pure indium and tin, as well as Si bonded to oxygen at the ITO/Si interface were observed. The experimental observations were compared with several atomistic models of ITO/Si interfaces. A periodic model of the ITO/Si interface was constructed, giving detailed information about the local environment at the interface. Molecular dynamics based on density functional theory was performed, showing how metal-oxygen bonds are broken on behalf of silicon-oxygen bonds. These theoretical results support and provide an explanation for the present as well as previous ex-situ and in-situ experimental observations pointing to the creation of metallic In and Sn along with the growth of SiO x at the ITO/Si interface.