Computer tech pioneer Max Palevsky dies at 85

Computer technology pioneer and venture capitalist Max Palevsky, perhaps best-known for funding then-startup chipmaker Intel Corp., has died. He was 85.

Palevsky died of heart failure Wednesday at his Beverly Hills home, his wife Jodie Evans told the Los Angeles Times.

The early high-tech pioneer transformed mainframe computer builder Scientific Data Systems into an industry powerhouse that he sold to Xerox for $1 billion in 1969.

The billionaire financier and philanthropist then became a founder and director of chipmaker Intel.

He left the corporate world in the 1970s.

Over the years, Palevsky helped finance then-fledgling Rolling Stone magazine, bankrolled movies, became a political activist and built a world-renowned art collection that transformed the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Born July 24, 1924, to a Chicago house painter father and homemaker mother, Palevsky served in the Army Air Force as an electronics officer during World War II. He majored in mathematics and philosophy at the University of Chicago, earning a bachelor's degree in 1948.

A lecture by John von Neumann at Pasadena's California Institute of Technology introduced Palevsky to computer technology.

He worked in the computer division of Bendix Corp. and for Packard Bell before launching Santa Monica-based Scientific Data Systems with 11 other scientists in 1961.

The firm was sold to Xerox eight years later for $1 billion - Palevsky's share was $100 million.

A liberal Democrat, Palevsky was a major supporter of Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter's presidential bids and an early supporter of 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern. He also helped finance Tom Bradley's campaign that got him elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1973.

Palevsky later soured on politics and concentrated on art.

Then, in 2000, he stunned Democrats when he contributed $1 million to the campaign finance reform initiative co-authored by Ron Unz, a conservative Silicon Valley tycoon. Palevsky said he was sickened by the "corruption in the electoral process." Democrats opposed the ultimately unsuccessful measure.

In 1990, Palevsky gave 32 pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and, three years later, he added 42 more pieces to his gift. In 2000, he donated $2 million to the museum for Arts and Crafts works.

Besides his wife, Palevsky is survived by daughter Madeleine Moskowitz; four sons, Nicholas, Alexander, Jonathan and Matthew; stepson Jan Krajewski III; sister Helen Futterman; and four grandchildren.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

More in Culture

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus