Paul G. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates before becoming a billionaire philanthropist who invested in conservation, space travel, arts and culture and professional sports, died on Monday. He was 65.
Mr. Gates said he was heartbroken about the loss of one of his “oldest and dearest friends.”
“Personal computing would not have existed without him,” Mr. Gates said in a statement.
“But Paul wasn’t content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, ‘If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it,’” Mr. Gates wrote.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recalled Allen’s contributions to the company, community and industry “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,” Mr. Nadella wrote on Twitter.
Allen, an avid sports fan, owned the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks.
Over the course of several decades, Allen gave more than $2 billion to a wide range of interests, including ocean health, homelessness and advancing scientific research.
Allen was on the list of America’s wealthiest people who pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes to charity.
The story of Microsoft
Allen and Mr. 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.
They founded the Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer, giving hobbyists a basic way to program and operate the machine.
After finding some success selling their programming language, MS-Basic, the Seattle natives moved their business in 1979 to Bellevue, Washington, not far from its eventual home in Redmond.
Microsoft’s big break came in 1980, when IBM Corp. decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.
Mr. Gates and Allen didn’t invent the operating system. To meet IBM’s needs, they spent $50,000 to buy one known as QDOS from another programmer, Tim Paterson. Eventually the product refined by Microsoft and renamed DOS, for Disk Operating System became the core of IBM PCs and their clones, catapulting Microsoft into its dominant position in the PC industry.
The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983. By 1991, Microsoft’s operating systems were used by 93 per cent of the world’s personal computers.
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.
They became billionaires when Microsoft was thrust onto the throne of technology.
Allen served as Microsoft’s executive vice president of research and new product development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
From technology to philanthropy
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.
When he released his 2011 memoir, “Idea Man,” he allowed 60 Minutes inside his home on Lake Washington, across the water from Seattle, revealing collections that included the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock to vintage war planes and a 300-foot yacht with its own submarine.
“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.”
Two weeks ago, Allen announced that the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that he was treated for in 2009 had returned and he planned to fight it aggressively.
“My brother was a remarkable individual on every level,” his sister Jody Allen said in a statement. “Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern,” she added.
Allen never married or had children.