Sadly, we live too much in a “winner take all world” and this applies as much to fame in business as in other fields. To wit: the passing of Paul Allen who co-founded Microsoft and thereby the computer revolution of the past forty years. Bill Gates (the other Microsoft co-founder) and Steve Jobs, who led Apple, are the names we most associate with personal computing, but it was the older Allen who stoked Gates’ early (junior high school) interest in computers and then convinced him the time was right for the personal computer. Allen’s vision and sense of urgency led Gates to drop out of Harvard to launch Microsoft.
Allen left Microsoft in 1983 to fight, and for many years held at bay, cancer that recently returned and claimed him a few days ago at age 65. His vast wealth led him to support and invest in a number of different ventures and causes from the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers to SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). You can learn more about his post- Microsoft life in technology blogger Robert X. Cringely’s tribute to Allen and Bill Gates’ reflections on Allen’s passing.
Gates noted that as far as Microsoft was concerned, “Microsoft would have never happened without Paul.”
I hope you’ll reflect that you’re reading this blog, and doing God knows what else on your computer, thanks in large measure to the vision and genius of Paul Allen. Perhaps even more important, as Mr. Cringely says, “Allen was a nice man gone too soon.”
Rest in Peace, Paul Allen, and thank you!