William was born in Grahamstown 'at about the time of Noah'. He attended St. Andrews Prep and then matriculated from Union High in Graaff Reinet.
At Rhodes University he obtained his B.Sc in Physics and Chemistry, followed by Honours in Chemistry with distinction. He then obtained a masters degree in 7 months at Natal University, Pietermaritzburg.
Realising that he was not cut out to be an academic he left the university environment and joined AECI in their Work Study Department. Here he developed a world-wide patent in safety-fuse manufacture.
He then joined Afrox for two years as technical manager, which also included their industrial training.
But the teaching bug kept biting and he moved into the supplementary education arena. Star Schools provided value for money education with top class teachers.
He became a household name over the next 25 years and his schools have taught almost a million pupils of all races in South Africa.
He received many accolades for his innovations in teaching, including the highly prestigious 'Teacher of the Year' award. One of his developments was a completely new method of producing educational television programmes - and the Liberty Life Learning Channel was born.
During 1998 William was voted as one of the top three presenters on TV.
He was also included (with his father, Prof. JLB Smith, of coelacanth fame) in the list of the 100 people who, in the last millennium, had the biggest impact on making South Africa the country that it is.
He has a passion for nature and conservation and owns the Featherbed Nature Reserve in Knysna where he lives.
His love for figures culminated in his being selected as a judge for the Miss South Africa Pageant both in 1998 and 1999 - not forgetting the cute little numbers on A Word Or 2.