Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.


Mat Hayward/Techhnews for 1st Family Foundation

Paul Allen, an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, has died.

Allen died Monday at the age of 65, his website Vulcan confirmed Monday. A cause of death wasn’t immediately available.

Allen, a survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009. Earlier this month, Allen announced on his website that the disease had returned but that he was going to fight it aggressively and was optimistic.

“I am very grateful for the support I’ve received from my family and friends,” Allen wrote. “And I’ve appreciated the support of everyone on the teams and in the broader community in the past, and count on that support now as I fight this challenge.”

In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Allen’s “contributions to our company, our industry and 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.

“I have learned so much from him — his inquisitiveness, his curiosity, and push for high standards is something that will continue to inspire me and all of us a Microsoft. Our hearts are with Paul’s family and loved ones. Rest in peace.”

Allen co-founded the software giant with Gates in 1975, but his partnership with Gates began in 1969, when Allen befriended the younger Gates at the private Seattle high school the two attended and began hanging out together in the computer room. The two honed their programming skilled on time-sharing computer systems through the school’s Teletype terminal.

Six years later, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Allen and Gates began working on the programming language Microsoft BASIC after seeing the Altair 8800 — what many consider to be the earliest desktop computer– on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics.

The pair began calling their venture “Micro-Soft” — a name Allen claimed credit for — and by 1978, the young software maker had chalked up its first $1 million in sales. Microsoft truck the motherload in 1981 when it licensed its MS-DOS operating system to IBM for use on its new personal computer. The company shrewdly retained the right to sell its software to other computer makers, setting the stage for a business model that made it the world’s largest software maker.

Allen left Microsoft in 1982 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, from which he recovered fully after several months of radiation therapy.

Allen became one of the richest men in the world when Microsoft went public in 1986, and he used his wealth to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers NBA basketball and Seattle Seahawks NFL football teams. 

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