Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, has passed away aged 65 following a third bout of cancer, his family has confirmed.
Paul Allen co-founded Micro-Soft - as the company was then known - with schoolfriend Bill Gates, after having dropped out of Washington State University to take a job with Honeywell as a programmer. Successfully convincing Gates to drop out of his own courses at Harvard University and having reached an agreement to develop a BASIC program for the Altair 8800 microcomputer in 1975, the pair moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Despite some struggles, a deal to develop an operating system for IBM ensured the financial success of the company - though the actual operating system, known as IBM DOS, PC-DOS, or MS-DOS depending on who you were speaking to - was purchased outright from Seattle Computer products rather than developed in-house.
While Microsoft would be a staggering success, Allen left early on in the company's history: A diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer resulted in Allen's decision to withdraw from the company in 1982, which brought him to loggerheads with his co-founder. Gates convinced Allen to change the share split between them from its original 50:50 to 60:40 to reflect the extra work Gates was putting into the company, to which Allen agreed, though a later attempt to push the deal still further to 64:36 was rejected. By 1983 Gates was looking to buy Allen's share outright, valued at $5 per share; Allen's decision to refuse and retain his shares turned him into one of the richest people on the planet following Microsoft's initial public offering (IPO) and subsequent share performance. Allen retained his position on the board of directors until 2000, and continued to advise the company up until his death. Allen would use his fortune for investment and philanthropy.
'My brother was a remarkable individual on every level. While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend,' says Jody Allen of her brother's passing. 'Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.'
'Paul Allen's contributions to our company, our industry and to our community are indispensable. As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world,' says current Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella of Allen's passing. 'I have learned so much from him – his inquisitiveness, curiosity and push for high standards are something that will continue to inspire me and all of us at Microsoft. Our hearts are with Paul's family and loved ones. Rest in peace.'
'I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends,' Gates tells the Wall Street Journal. 'Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.'
January 24 2020 | 12:00