Computer pioneer Palevsky was wary of Google, games, PCs

Intel founding investor Max Palevsky, who died Wednesday at age 85, had doubts later in life about the impact of personal computers on society.

Max Palevsky, the computer industry pioneer and early investor in Intel who died at age 85 on Wednesday, had, ironically, a fairly well-documented skepticism of computers, cells phones, Google, and games later in his life, according to reports.

Max Palevsky University of Chicago

Palevsky's resume is impressive. Before helping to found Intel, he worked on Bendix Corp.'s first computer, the G-15, then, in 1957, joined Packard Bell in Los Angeles, and helped develop one of that company's first computers.

In 1961, he founded Scientific Data Systems to build smaller business computers to compete with IBM. That company was acquired in 1969 by Xerox for $1 billion. Palevsky walked away with a 10 percent share of the Xerox sale.

Following the sale of Scientific Data Systems, he invested a portion of that money in a Santa Clara, Calif., chip start-up that became Intel.

Later in life, though, he became wary of the impact of computers on society. In an essay for an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2005, he expressed a dim view of the "hypnotic quality of computer games, the substitution of a Google search for genuine inquiry, the instant messaging that has replaced social discourse," according to The New York Times.

Palevsky did not own a computer or a cell phone in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I haven't touched a computer, watched TV or used a credit card in 15 years," he told the paper in 2001.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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