When Craig McCaw's father died, his mother was forced to liquidate the family businesses one by one to pay his debts and taxes. All that was left was one tiny cable television system in Centralia, Washington. While only a sophomore in college, Craig McCaw took the helm of the business.
He expanded the cable business and gradually switched into the new and untested field of cellular telephone service. He borrowed astronomic sums, gambling that the portable phone, a standard feature of the millionaire's limousine, would become a fixture in the workman's pick-up truck. By the end of the 1980s, McCaw's Cellular One was the best known brand in the business, and McCaw Cellular had built a national network that dwarfed its competitors.
McCaw sold the cellular business to AT&T for $11.5 billion, and turned his attention to the emerging field of wireless Internet access. From 2003 to 2010, he led the expansion of broadband access as Chairman of Clearwire, a wireless Internet provider.