Sports, Rock n’ Roll: Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s Passions

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, passed away at 65 after battling cancer. 

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Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft passed away on Monday evening at the age of 65 after battling it out with cancer for the past year or so. Allen died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to his company Vulcan Inc.

Personal computers, conservation, pro football, rock n' roll and rocket ships: Paul G Allen couldn't have asked for a better way to spend, invest and donate the billions he reaped from co-founding Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates.

Allen used the fortune he made from Microsoft — whose Windows operating system is found on most of the world's desktop computers — to invest in other ambitions, from tackling climate change and advancing brain research to finding innovative solutions to solve some of the world's biggest challenges.

Here’s a look at the vibrant lifestyle of the Microsoft co-founder.


How Allen and Gates Met

Allen was born in Seattle. After graduating from the city's private Lakeside School, where he met Gates, Allen spent two years at Washington State University. The two friends both dropped out of college to pursue the future they envisioned: A world with a computer in every home.

Allen and Gates founded 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 Gates and Allen found 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.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, passed away at 65 after battling cancer. 
Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed a strong partnership to build Microsoft over the years. 
(Photo: AP)

He was a programmer who coined Microsoft's name and made important contributions to its early success, yet was overshadowed by his partner's acerbic intellect and cutthroat business sense.

Microsoft's big break came in 1980, when IBM Corp decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.

Gates and Allen agreed, even though they didn't have one to offer. To meet IBM's needs, they spent $50,000 to buy an operating system called QDOS from another startup in Seattle — without, of course, letting on that they had IBM lined up as a customer.

Eventually, the product refined by Microsoft became the core of IBM PCs and their clones, catapulting Microsoft into its dominant position in the PC industry.


A True Football & Basketball Fanatic

No one had more influence on professional sports in the Pacific Northwest than Paul Allen.

But though he was the owner of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and partial owner of Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders, Allen usually shied away from the spotlight sought by others in his same position.

He would leave the locker rooms before cameras arrived, shuffling down hallways and out a side door to avoid taking attention from those he believed deserved it.

In Oregon, he was the billionaire who bought the Trail Blazers at age 35 and grew them into a small-market powerhouse with a pair of NBA Finals appearances while keeping them rooted in Portland.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, passed away at 65 after battling cancer. 
Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen lifts the Vince Lombardi trophy in February 2014. 
(Photo: AP)

He was also part of arguably the most successful expansion franchise launch in pro sports history with the arrival of the Sounders in 2009. Allen's passion was basketball, leading to his purchase of the Blazers in 1988. Within a few years, the team was playing in the NBA Finals with Allen regularly sitting baseline to watch his team on the floor.

Allen saw the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl for the first time in the 2005 season when they lost to Pittsburgh. Eight years later, he finally raised the championship trophy after Seattle's 43-8 thumping of Denver to conclude the 2013 season.

Reports earlier this year even suggested that Allen had emerged as a possible contender to buy popular English club Chelsea FC from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich which didn’t materialise at the end of the day.


Rock Always on His Mind

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, passed away at 65 after battling cancer. 
Paul Allen could pluck a string or two and get the crowd’s attention. 
(Photo: AP)

The other big interest in Allen’s life was music and especially his connection with rock. He played guitar, which was part of a lot of Microsoft’s party ensemble over the years.

He even built a gleaming pop culture museum in his hometown to showcase his love of rock n' roll, and funded underwater expeditions that made important shipwreck discoveries, including a US aircraft carrier lost during World War II.


Tried His Hand With a Space Project Too

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, passed away at 65 after battling cancer. 
Allen played his part in nurturing future of science aspirants in his hometown. 
(Photo: AP)

And finally, Allen founded Vulcan with his sister Jody Allen in 1986, which 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 and scores of technology startups.

Allen also funded maverick aerospace designer Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately developed manned spacecraft to reach space.

The SpaceShipOne technology was licensed by Sir Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic, which is testing a successor design to carry tourists on brief hops into lower regions of space.

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