Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died on October 16 due to complications stemming from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It was a disease that the software engineer turned billionaire philanthropist had contended with for several years. Allen revealed two weeks prior that, even though he had undergone treatment, the disease had relapsed. Although he and his doctors were initially optimistic about the treatment, it was too late.
Allen left Microsoft’s board of directors in 2000, and prior to that, had a fairly tumultuous relationship with Bill Gates. Upon Allen’s passing, Gates had this to say:
I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen. From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him. But Paul wasn’t content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, “If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.” That’s the kind of person he was. Paul loved life and those around him, and we all cherished him in return. He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.
Paul Allen And Personal Computing
Allen and Gates grew up together during their student years in Seattle. Fast forward to when the two were fresh-faced college students, Allen was the one who convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard so they could form the company Microsoft.
The name “Microsoft” denoted the company’s focus on developing software for microcomputers. Desktop computers for home and personal use were known as microcomputers back then. They were, after all, tiny compared to the gigantic machines used by the government or large firms. Allen and Gates worked together to craft the Microsoft Disk-Operating System (MS-DOS), which preceded the Windows operating system. From there, Allen proved instrumental in brokering a deal between Microsoft and IBM just as the latter was preparing to enter the computer industry. The rest, as they say, is history.
However, the relationship between Allen and Gates grew rocky as Microsoft began to boom. Allen wrote in his book Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer (who would, later on, become one of Microsoft’s CEOs) tried to “rip him off.” Gates once tried to buy out Allen at $5 per share but the man stood his ground. When Microsoft went public, Allen became a billionaire.
With Great Power (And Money) Comes Great Responsibility
Paul Allen went on to expand his reach in various industries as well as philanthropy. Most of his efforts focused on his hometown of Seattle and nearby Portland. He went on to purchase the Portland Trailblazers in the late 80s. In 1996, Allen purchased the Seattle Seahawks when its owner planned to move the team to California. Allen is also part-owner of the Seattle Sounders FC. He has contributed to the funding of, or outright purchased, sporting arenas, event centers, and cinemas. Additionally, he founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Institute for Cell Science, and Institute for Artificial Intelligence, all located in his beloved Seattle.