Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies of cancer at 65

Oct 16, 2018 11:31 IST
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Gardner Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, passed away on October 15, 2018. He was 65.

He died in Seattle from complications related to Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the less-common Hodgkin's disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Apart from his role in Microsoft, Allen influenced many aspects of modern life from technology and science to sports and music and invested in conservation, space travel, arts and culture and professional sports.

Paul Allen’s career at Microsoft and beyond

  • Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975 before becoming a billionaire philanthropist.

  • They founded the Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer.
  • Microsoft’s big break came in 1980, when IBM Corporation decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.
  • The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983.
  • 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.
  • However, Allen stayed on Microsoft’s Board of Directors for several years until 2000 while establishing his own philanthropic foundation, along with his investment firm ‘Vulcan’, which managed his business and philanthropic interests.


He bought two professional sports teams, namely, the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. He was involved with both until his death.

Space Travel and Science

He also founded several organizations, including the space transportation company Stratolaunch, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and another Allen Institute that focuses on bioscience.


Allen was also fond of music. In 2013, during an interview with Guitar Player, Allen revealed that "Are You Experienced" song by the Jimi Hendrix prompted him to start playing guitar. Allen even loaned money to Hendrix's family during a legal battle in 1995 to regain rights to the guitarist's image.

He also funded a USD 100 million museum for music and pop culture in Seattle, now called the Museum of Pop Culture.

Charity and Adventure

  • In his later years, Paul Allen took up a number of other projects from the charitable to the adventurous.
  • In 2014, he pledged USD 100 million to help fight the Ebola virus. In 2017, he donated USD 30 million to house Seattle's homeless.
  • Worth around USD 20.3 billion at the time of his death (Forbes estimates), Allen donated more than USD 2 billion to charity.
  • In March 2018, a team of explorers led by him discovered wreckage from the USS Juneau, a World War II cruiser sunk by a Japanese torpedo in 1942.
  • He owned one of the world’s biggest yachts, the 400-foot (122 meters) ‘Octopus’, which was the venue for many lavish parties and the base for scuba expeditions.
  • He spent millions more on a collection of vintage warplanes and funded the first non-government rocket to make it into space.

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