Paul Allen – Microsoft, Yacht & Bill Gates

Entrepreneur and investor Paul Allen was best known for being one of the co-founders of

Entrepreneur and investor Paul Allen was best known for being one of the co-founders of Microsoft with Bill Gates.

Who Was Paul Allen?

Born on January 21, 1953, in Seattle, Washington, Paul Allen met fellow Lakeside School student and computer enthusiast Bill Gates when Allen was 14 and Gates was 12. Less than a decade later, in 1975, college drop-outs Allen and Gates founded Microsoft. Allen resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 1983 and continued to pursue other business, research and philanthropic opportunities. 

How Did Paul Allen and Bill Gates Meet?

While attending the Lakeside School outside Seattle, 14-year-old Allen met 12-year-old Bill Gates, a fellow student and computer enthusiast. Less than a decade later, in June 1975, Allen and Gates, both dropped out of college. Allen, who was from Washington State University, founded Microsoft with the intention of designing software for the new wave of personal computers. 

By the time Allen arranged for Microsoft to buy an operating system called Q-DOS for $50,000, the company had already supplied software for emerging companies such as Apple and Commodore. Gates and Allen reinvented Q-DOS as MS-DOS and installed it as the operating system for IBM’s PC offering, which dominated the market after its release in 1981. 

Microsoft and Vulcan Ventures

As Microsoft grew and its stock steadily rose, Allen’s share in the company he co-founded made him a billionaire at just over 30 years of age. In 1983, Allen, known as the “idea man” counterpart to Gates’ “man of action,” resigned from Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. After undergoing several months of radiation treatment, his health was restored. 

Diverse Investments

His investments were diverse: America Online, SureFind (an online classified ads service), Teluscan (an online financial service), Starwave (an online content provider), hardware, software and wireless communications. From 1994 to 1998, Allen built an infrastructure of well over 30 different companies in pursuit of his “wired world” strategy. With Vulcan’s 1998 purchases of Marcus Cable and more than 90 percent of Charter Communications, Allen became the owner of the nation’s seventh-largest cable company. In 1999, he invested nearly $2 billion in the RCN corporation, bringing his total holdings in the cable and Internet businesses to over $25 billion.

Other Interests: Seattle Seahawks, Experience Music Project & More

Allen’s other personal and philanthropic interests included sports (he owned the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks) and music. On June 23, 2000, his Experience Music Project, a $250 million interactive rock ‘n’ roll museum designed by the architect Frank O. Gehry, opened in Seattle. Allen co-founded EMP with his sister, Jody Allen Patton, who serves as the museum’s president of the board of trustees. In April 2003, he announced he would be spending $20 million to build the Science Fiction Experience, which opened in the summer of 2004. The museum was billed as “entertaining and thought-provoking exhibits and programs.” Allen had also established philanthropic foundations for the causes of medical research, visual and performing arts, community service, and forest preservation.

Playing Guitar

A dedicated Jimi Hendrix enthusiast since he first saw Hendrix perform in 1969, Allen played rhythm guitar in a Seattle band called Grown Men; the band released their first CD in the spring of 2000. In 2013, Allen released another album with his band the Underthinkers called Everywhere at Once through Sony.

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