Right now, you might be reading this bit of news off a PC screen, and you’ve probably got this man to thank: Paul Allen.
A co-founder of Microsoft and one of the fathers of personal computing, he had a major hand in shaping the IT landscape of today.
On October 15, Allen passed away after an on-off battle with different forms of cancer over the years, at age 65.
Losing one of the greats
Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer, the Allen family said in a statement.
Reuters notes that in early October, Allen had revealed he was being treated for the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which he also was treated for in 2009. He had an earlier brush with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, another cancer, in the early 1980s before leaving Microsoft. It was one of the reasons he had left the company.
He had revealed the disease’s return only two weeks ago, after previously being treated for it in 2009, the BBC said.
He had said he and his doctors were “optimistic” about treatment.
Now, however, we bid farewell to one of the greats.
Microsoft’s future lied with a childhood friendship
Today, you might know billionaire Bill Gates as the face of Microsoft. He, however, had a partner, and that partner was responsible for the name we associate today with mainstream personal computing. Paul Allen was the person who had pushed Bill Gates to quit university to found their new tech startup, and he was responsible for calling the company Microsoft (written as Micro-Soft initially).
Forbes estimated his net worth at $21.7 billion in October 2018.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said: “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends… Personal computing would not have existed without him.”
They had met during their school years, and shared a passion for computers and programming.
In 1975, at 19, Gates dropped out of Harvard University on the insistence of Allen, and they went on to found Microsoft. Their first product was a BASIC programming code interpreter for the Altair 8800 microcomputer, Reuters notes.
“With sales topping $1 million at the end of 1978, the company moves to Bellevue, Washington, from Albuquerque, New Mexico,” according to Reuters.
Microsoft was incorporated in 1981, the same year they released their new operating software Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS). It began running on IBM personal computers.
1983 marked two significant events. Firstly, it marked the launch of “Windows” software, which aimed to improve the MS-DOS user interface.
Secondly, it marked the year Allen’s time with Microsoft had ended, following a major row with Gates. It was also the year Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer he later defeated.
After he left, he maintained his original ownership in the company, which allowed him to enjoy decades of massive returns. He held a 28% stake at Microsoft’s IPO in 1986. This, in turn, allowed him to invest billions of dollars in financial corporations, arts, rock music, real estate, and sports.
He leaves behind him a diverse legacy, and personal computing will be in his debt forever.