Most of us know Paul Allen primarily as the co-founder of Microsoft. We also know that the business mogul and philanthropist was one of the richest men in the world at the time of his death. But did you know that it was Allen who coined the term “Microsoft”? Did you also know that the technology guru was a music enthusiast and released an album with his own rock band? All these and other interesting facts about Allen’s life, work, family and passing are revealed below.
Paul Allen’s Early Life and Founding of Microsoft
Paul Gardner Allen was born on 21 January 1953 in Seattle, Washington. He attended a private school in Seattle where he met his close friend and future business partner, Bill Gates. The two brought together their mutual love and passion for computers. After high school, Allen went to Washington State University to study computer science, while Gates went to Harvard. However, they stayed in touch and continued their collaboration. After two years of college, Allen dropped out and convinced Gates to do the same so that both could pursue their passion for computers and software.
Inspired by an article published in Popular Electronics magazine introducing MITS Computer’s new Altair microcomputer kit, Allen and Gates moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where MITS headquarters were located. After working for some time and saving $16,000, they started their own software company in 1975.
The road to success was not easy, but vision, perseverance, and hard work kept them alive. Today, the small company, which started out with only $16,000, is estimated at $89.95 billion. Today, Microsoft is an established player in the technology industry and one of the most valuable companies in the world.
His Other Career Endeavors Outside Microsoft
In addition to his groundbreaking advances at Microsoft, Paul Allen has also made significant advances in real estate, research, sports, media, and aerospace. In the housing sector, his Vulcan Real Estate Company revitalized the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle. The area is now home to companies like Google and Amazon, with up to $1.16 billion in office space. In research, Allen founded the Allen Institute for Brain Research, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Cell Research. All these agencies freely share their data and knowledge with the public by publishing it online.
Paul Allen also had influence in Hollywood. His Vulcan Productions Company has released several award-winning films, TV series and documentaries. Another area that felt Allen’s influence was the sports sector. Although the Microsoft co-founder was a certified nerd, he was still a passionate sportsman. He bought the NBA side, the Portland Trailblazers, in 1988 and the NFL franchise, the Seattle Seahawks, in 1996. Allen did not simply run these teams as just another company. He fired them passionately and the teams rewarded him as well. The Trailblazers reached two NBA finals, while the Seahawks reached three Super Bowls and emerged victorious in the 2014 edition.
All of the above culminated in net assets of $20.3 billion, putting Allen in March 2018 in 44th place among the richest people in the world. The co-founder of Microsoft used this gigantic fortune for the finer things in life such as yachts and golf courses. He also devoted a great deal to charity. Allen has supported several admirable courses in his life, including the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. Not only has he pledged $100 million in funds, but he has also led a summit aimed at further action. The economic mogul did not stop there. His company also produced a critically acclaimed documentary film about the courageous Red Cross workers at the head of the struggle.
Paul Allen’s Family Life
Paul Allen came from a family of four. His late father Kenneth was a librarian, his late mother Edna a teacher. The tech guru also had a sister named Jody Allen. Jody is an astute businesswoman and helped her brother run his Vulcan business group. After his death, she was named sole heir to his fortune. This means she has the difficult task of donating half of her brother’s fortune to charity. Allen had signed the pledge of gift in 2010 and promised to give away no less than half of his assets.
Apart from his blood relatives, Paul Allen had no family of his own, as he was never married. The deceased Mogul had stated in several interviews that he would very much like to marry and start a family, but this dream never came true. Therefore he had to be content with dates. Allen went out with the tennis champion Monica Seles for several years in the 80s. Later he stopped in 1998 and moved on with Jerry Hall in 1999. This special romance lasted only a few months. At the time of his death, Allen was in a relationship with Leigh Colier, Vice President of Programming and Development at CBS Television Distribution. Their romance began in 2011.
What Caused His Demise?
Mankind still has to find a solution to mortality and as such, no matter how good or wealthy an individual is, at some point they must succumb to death. For Paul Allen, this point was in October 2018, when the business magnate died of septic shock from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Allen was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the early 1980s. He successfully fought the disease and spent the next three decades without any problems. In 2009, however, the disease flared up again, this time as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but Allen managed to defeat it again.
He enjoyed a new life for the next nine years before cancer reappeared in October 2018. The Microsoft co-founder immediately began treatment but gave up the ghost on October 15, 2018. Allen’s passing led to an outburst of homage from several sides. The city of Seattle also honored a son who had done so much for them by illuminating the city’s major landmarks in blue. Allen was later buried in Acacia Memorial Park in his home town of Seattle, Washington.