Max Palevsky was born and grew up in Chicago to poor immigrant parents. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and Yale. After graduate studies in philosophy and logic at UCLA, he became interested in the field of computer science. He worked for several of the big aircraft and defense companies in California doing pioneering work in the computer field, until he formed his own company, Scientific Data Systems of California. After he sold the company to Xerox, he devoted much of his life to philanthropy, Democratic politics and collecting art. He was instrumental in George McGovern's campaign for President in n 1972, and financed Tom Bradley's first run for mayor of Los Angeles. He owned Rolling Stone Magazine for a time in the 1970's and produced feature motion pictures with Peter Bart. Up until the end of his life, he personally handled the many requests for money that would come in the mail, mostly from strangers or grassroots political groups. Late in his life, Max donated $1,000,000 to organizing for campaign finance reform.