Co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen dies of cancer complications at age 65

Allen died of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer, the Allen family said in a statement.

FILE: Seahawks owner Paul Allen greets NFL Hall of Fame member and former Seahawk Kenny Easley because his number is put to rest during the break between the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Image: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO – Co-founder of Microsoft Corp. Paul Allen, the man who persuaded school friend Bill Gates to leave Harvard to start what became the world's largest software company, died on Monday at the age of 65, said his family.

Allen left Microsoft in 1983, before the company became a business mole, after a dispute with Gates, but thanks to his share in their original partnership, he spent the rest of his life and billions of dollars on yachts, art, rock music, sports teams, brain research and property.

Allen died of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer, the Allen family said in a statement.

At the beginning of October Allen had revealed that he was being treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he was also treated for in 2009. He had previously had a brush with Hodgkin's lymphoma, another form of cancer, in the early 1980s before he left Microsoft.

Music lover Allen had a list of controversial friends in the entertainment industry, including U2 singer Bono, but preferred to avoid the spotlight at his compound on Mercer Island, opposite Lake Washington from Seattle, where he grew up.

Allen remained loyal to the Pacific Northwest region, overseeing more than $ 1 billion in primarily local philanthropic projects, developed Seattle's South Lake Union technology hub which Inc. calls home and builds the headquarters of its Allen Institute for Brain Science. over there.

Gates described Allen as following the Microsoft collaboration with a "second act" aimed at strengthening communities and said in a statement: "I am deeply grieved by the death of one of my oldest and dearest friends."

The current Microsoft director, Satya Nadella, called him a "silent and persistent" on Monday & # 39; man who changed the world.

"He is undervalued in Seattle," says David Brewster, founder of the local news website and the Seattle Weekly newspaper. "He is aloof and withdrawn, there is too much Howard Hughes in the way he behaves for Seattle, really values ​​the good he does."

Paul Gardner Allen was born in Seattle on January 21, 1953, the son of a librarian father and a teacher mother. He was two years older than Gates, but when they met in the computer room at the exclusive Lakeside School in Seattle in 1968, they discovered a shared passion.

"At that time we were just looking around, or we thought so," Gates recalls in his 1985 book The way for us.


Allen went on to Washington State University, but stopped in 1974 to work at Honeywell in Boston. While there, he bullied Gates, who studied at nearby Harvard, to quit school and take part in the burgeoning revolution in personal computing.

Gates eventually agreed and in 1975 the two joint BASIC software developed for the Altair 8800, an awkward desktop computer that cost $ 400 in kit form.

The couple moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, close to the maker of the Altair, and formed a company. It was Allen's idea to call it Micro-Soft, an amalgam of microcomputer and software. The dash was later removed.

Allen was responsible for the technical activities of Microsoft during the first eight years of the company, making him one of the few people who created early software such as MS-DOS and Word that made the PC revolution possible and brought Microsoft to the top.

But at the beginning of the eighties he was no longer aware of the development of software. He never showed the commercial instinct of Gates, which is generally credited with encouraging the rise of Microsoft to ubiquity in the 1990s.

Allen left Microsoft in 1983 after not staying with Gates and his new lieutenant, Steve Ballmer, in December 1982, just months after the diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma. As he called in his memoirs of 2011 Idea Man, he heard Gates and Ballmer secretly plotting to reduce his ownership interest.

"They regretted my recent lack of production and discussed how they could dilute my Microsoft shares by giving options to themselves and to other shareholders," wrote Allen.

Gates and Ballmer apologized later, but the damage was done and Allen left Microsoft, although he stayed on the board until 2000.


Allen recovered from his cancer after radiation treatment, but in 2009 the diagnosis was made of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, another form of blood cancer. He was in remission in April 2010, but the disease reappeared in 2018.

Allen retained his share in the company. His share of 28% in Microsoft's first public offer in 1986 made him a multi-millionaire.

His wealth reached a peak of about $ 30 billion by the end of 1999, according to Forbes magazine, but Allen was hurt by the sharp decline in Microsoft shares after the bubble burst in 2000 and some unprofitable technological investments.

In October 2018 Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $ 21.7 billion and said he was the 44th richest person in the world.

Allen, the owner of 42 American patents, threw himself as a technology visionary who drove Microsoft's early success and saw the future of connected computing long before the internet.

"I expect the personal computer to be the kind of thing that people carry with them, a partner who takes notes, does accounting, gives memories, performs a thousand personal tasks", Allen wrote in a column in Personal Computing already in 1977, long before portable computers became a fact.

In the same year he outlined an early vision of what the internet turned out to be Microcomputer Interface magazine.

"What I do see is a home terminal connected to a centralized network via telephone lines, fiber optic or other communication system," he said. "With that system, you might be able to offer your car for sale or find a home in another city or view the price of asparagus at the nearest supermarket or view the price of a stock."

Allen called this radical idea later the "wired world", which has largely come to fruition. He was not the only one who predicted connected computers, but was one of the most prominent.

But Allen's technology takes off after Microsoft, which focused on areas that he thought would grow with the arrival of the "wired world", was not that successful. He lost $ 8 billion in the cable TV industry, mainly with a bad guess on cable company Charter Communications, while technology companies he banked, such as Metricom, SkyPix and Interval Research, were expensive failures.


He was more fortunate in sports and real estate. Allen bought the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team in 1988 and became a local hero in 1997 when he bought the Seattle Seahawks football franchise after the previous owner tried to move the team to California. The Seahawks have won the Super Bowl in February 2014 and both franchises are now often appreciated as Allen has paid for them.

Allen also made hundreds of millions of dollars to redevelop South Lake Union, a shabby part of downtown Seattle that became a technological Mecca and site of the glass & # 39; spheres & # 39; headquarters.

All the while, the never-married Allen chased numerous personal projects and activities. He owned one of the world's largest yachts, the 122 meters Octopusthat was the location for many lavish parties and the basis for diving expeditions.

A rock-and-roll enthusiast, Allen had a band on call to join when he wanted to and spent more than $ 250 million building a museum dedicated to his hero, Jimi Hendrix, that turned into a music and science fiction exhibition designed by Frank Gehry.

He spent millions more on a collection of vintage war planes and financed the first non-governmental rocket to capture space. He also collected invaluable antiques and works by Monet, Rodin and Rothko to use his extensive art collection.

Like Gates, Allen was a dedicated philanthropist who gave away more than $ 1.5 billion in his life and promised to donate more than half of his wealth to charity.

With various vehicles Allen focused his attention on brain sciences, motivated by the loss of his mother to Alzheimer's disease, together with universities and libraries.

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