Others might have found us eccentric, but I didn't care. I had discovered my calling. I was a programmer.
An incredible technologist, a hardcore sports enthusiast, a passionate musician, and above all a philanthropist, Paul Allen wore all those hats and yesterday when he succumbed to his long illness, the technology world surely lost one of its greatest sons. His incredible journey has seen several ups and downs. From being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982, which coerced him to leave Microsoft – a company he had built from the ground up, to recuperating from the deadly ailment and founding Vulcan Inc., from being a college dropout to the 46th richest man on Forbe’s list, Allen has seen it all.
The TechGraph family is deeply saddened by the news of Paul Allen’s demise and this article is a tribute to the great man. In fact, it is our attempt to ensure that he rests in peace.
Paul Allen’s Early Life
Born to Kenneth Samuel Allen and Edna Faye Allen on January 21, 1953, in Seattle, Paul showed great interest in science and technology from an early age. Since childhood, he had participated in science club meetings organized by his mother. Moreover, his parents have always encouraged him and his sister, Jody Allen, to develop wide varieties of interests.
Paul joined Lakeside school in Seattle and during that time he befriended Bill Gates. The duo shared equal enthusiasm for computers and it was on their school’s Teletype terminal that both of them developed and tested their computer skills. In fact, Allen had mentioned that he along with Gates went for dumpster diving for computer codes.
Post-school, Allen secured admission into the Washington State University, thanks to his perfect SAT score of 1600. His college journey, however, ended two years later, when he decided to join Honeywell as a computer programmer, thereby discontinuing college education.
Later, he convinced his pal Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard – where Gates had ended up – to work on an innovative project that we currently know as Microsoft.
Paul Allen and Microsoft
In 1975, Paul Allen along with Bill Gates started marketing a BASIC computer program and interpreter that led to the genesis of Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As documented in a Fortune Magazine article, Allen came up with the name Microsoft.
As Microsoft progressed further, Allen struck a deal with IBM, promising the delivery of a Disk Operating System. In order to close the deal, Allen bought Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS), developed by Tim Paterson. QDOS was then revamped and re-branded as MS-DOS that ran on IBM’s PC line. This not only gave Microsoft its first ever OS but also showered Allen and Gate with both fortune and fame.
Despite the popularity and wealth, tough time awaited Allen and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982. This coerced him to leave his position at Microsoft as his treatment had become a strong deterrent to his work. He still remained in the Board of Directors, which he relinquished in 2000.
Paul Allen and Music
A devout fan of Jimi Hendrix, Allen’s received his first electric guitar at the age of sixteen. And since then, he had spent a significant amount of time in mastering the instrument. After his long toil in business and technology, Allen played rhythm guitar for an independently-produced and eponymous album Grown Men.
Allen got a major release with Sony’s Legacy Recording label under the album name Everywhere at Once by Paul Allen and the Underthinkers in 2013. The album was described by PopMatters.com as “a quality release of blues-rock that’s enjoyable from start to finish”.
In an interview with Quincy Jones for a magazine, Allen even mentioned jamming with Stevie Wonders on a yacht.
Paul Allen and Sports
Paul Allen owned three major sports team name Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Seattle Seahawks (NFL), and Seattle Sounders FC.
Out of the three, perhaps the acquisition of Seattle Seahawks resonated well with mass’ emotion. The decision was taken when Ken Behring – former owner – threatened to move the team to Southern California. In an emotional interview, Seattle Seahawks’ minority owner told The Seattle Times “I’m not sure anybody else in this community would have done what [Allen] did”.
Today, Seattle Seahawks has three Superbowl title under its belt and is touted to have the most rabid fan base in NFL. The team is currently valued at $1.33 billion as per a Forbe’s report.
Paul Allen and Philanthropy
The possible is constantly being redefined, and I care deeply about helping humanity move forward.
Perhaps this statement by Allen provides the gist of what his vision was towards philanthropy. A generous human being who believed in giving back to society, Allen’s philanthropic works encompassed various fields.
Individually, he has spent almost a billion in scientific research in the areas of medicine, artificial intelligence, and others and it included endeavors such as The Human Brain Project.
His contribution, which is more than $7 million, towards environmental conservation is also noteworthy. As a patron of various environment conservation agencies, Allen had always been vocal about it and helped in raising awareness.
Paul Allen was the largest private investor in the Ebola crisis where he pledged at least $100 million to end the epidemic that was claiming life in Africa.
It is beyond any doubt that Paul Allen was one of the greatest entrepreneurs to grace our planet with his presence. While he leaves for the heavenly abode, we will always remember him as ‘the better billionaire. And the aforementioned trivia proves why he is worthy of that title.