Max Palevsky, a co-founder of chip giant Intel who made a fortune in the technology business before turning his attention to philanthropy and politics, died May 5 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the age of 85.
Palevsky died of heart failure, his assistant, Angela Kaye, told the New York Times.
Palevsky became involved with computers in the 1950s after hearing a lecture by John von Neumann at the California Institute of Technology, according to the New York Times. He started his computer career at Bendix, then joined Packard Bell’s computer division in 1957. Four years later, he and 11 others formed Scientific Data Systems, which built smaller business computers. Xerox bought the company for $1 billion in 1969.
Palevsky, with his new fortune-his take from the sale was $100 million-helped fund a startup that grew into Intel, now the dominant processor company worldwide.
According to reports, Palevsky left the corporate world behind in the mid-1970s, using his money to help fund entities and political candidates he believed in, from Rolling Stone magazine to the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. He also funded movies and amassed a world-class Arts and Crafts furniture collection that is now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Even before he left Intel, Palevsky’s interest in Democratic politics was evident through such endeavors as his backing of Robert Kennedy’s presidential bid.
As he got older, he became troubled by the amount of money being poured into politics and took up the issue of campaign finance reform, a cause that brought him into conflict with the Democratic Party that he had so long supported. He contributed to the campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was a strong proponent of new campaign finance rules, and gave $1 million to a campaign finance reform measure in California.
Democrats were opposed to the bill initiative, which eventually failed.