1901: born in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest son of Ukrainian immigrants Goldie and Samuel Paley, owners of the Congress Cigar Company
In 1919, the Paley family relocated to Philadelphia, where William attended the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School. Paley inherited his father's prosperous cigar business, becoming vice president and supervising advertising and production. Cigar sales exceeded expectations because of Paley's successful publicity campaign.
In 1927, impressed by the response that was generated by radio advertising, he invested in a small radio network, the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System (CPBS).
William S. Paley (upper) and CBS Film Chain (source: biography)
Following World War II, Paley focused his efforts on the development of CBS's news organization and recruited American journalist Edward R. Murrow, and later Walter Cronkite. In 1947, the network rapidly expanded its studio facilities and heightened public interest in the medium of television.
In 1966, Paley disregarded a mandatory retirement rule and continued as CBS's chairman of the board. In 1983, he left the company for a five-year sabbatical and resumed his position in 1987. Paley continued to parent the vast broadcasting empire until his death from a heart attack in 1990.