Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen, who together with his childhood friend Bill Gates started Microsoft before becoming a billionaire philanthropist who invested in conservation, space travel and professional sports, died Monday at the age 65.
His death was announced by his company, Vulcan Inc. Earlier this month Allen announced that the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that he was treated for in 2009 had returned and he planned to fight it aggressively. “While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend,” said his sister, Jody Allen, in a statement.
Allen, who was an avid sports fan, owned the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks. Allen and Gates met while attending a private school in North Seattle. The two friends would later drop out of college to pursue the future they envisioned: A world with a computer in every home.
Gates so strongly believed it that he left Harvard University in his junior year to devote himself full-time to his and Allen’s startup, originally called Micro-Soft. Allen spent two years at Washington State University before dropping out as well. The Windows operating system is now used on most of the world’s desktop computers, and Word is the cornerstone of the company’s prevalent Office products.
Microsoft was thrust onto the throne of technology and soon Gates and Allen became billionaires. With his sister Jody Allen in 1986, he founded Vulcan, the investment firm that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts. He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the aerospace firm Stratolaunch, which has built a colossal airplane designed to launch satellites into orbit. He has also backed research into nuclear-fusion power.
Allen later joined the list of America’s wealthiest people who pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes to charity. In 2010, he publicly pledged to give away the majority of his fortune, saying he believed “those fortunate to achieve great wealth should put it to work for the good of humanity.”
Allen served as Microsoft’s executive vice president of research and new product development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with cancer. “To be 30 years old and have that kind of shock — to face your mortality — really makes you feel like you should do some of the things that you haven’t done yet,” Allen said in a 2000 book, “Inside Out: Microsoft in Our Own Words,” published to celebrate 25 years of Microsoft.
His influence is firmly imprinted on the cultural landscape of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, from the bright metallic Museum of Pop Culture designed by architect Frank Gehry to the computer science center at the University of Washington that bears his name. bIn 1988 at the age of 35, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team. He told The Associated Press that “for a true fan of the game, this is a dream come true.”