The co-founder of software giant Microsoft has died in his home town of Seattle. Paul Allen, together with his childhood friend Bill Gates in the 70s, was the founder of the company, which would make them both multiple billionaire. He was 65 years old.
In early October it became clear that aggressive cancer had returned to Allen. In 2009 he had already been treated for that disease.
Like Gates, Allen donated a large part of his assets to charity. As an avid sports fan, he also owned basketball club Portland Trailblazers and American football club Seattle Seahawks.
A computer in every house
Allen and Bill Gates met at high school in Seattle, in the computer room. Both had the meaning of information technology at an early stage: they foresaw that there would ever be a computer in every house.
Allen stopped his studies early and moved Gates, who studied at Harvard, to do the same, so that they could work on what would now be called a start-up: Micro-Soft, as it was then spelled. Allen was the silent force in the background, Gates had the commercial instinct.
Their first product was the programming language MS-Basic for the Altair 8800, a computer with a frequency of 2MHz and a memory of 256 Kbytes, which is considered the first PC. With this they achieved modest success; the big breakthrough came in 1980 when computer manufacturer IBM decided to make PCs. Microsoft was instructed to develop the operating system for this.
This became known under the name DOS, Disk Operating System, but both men did not come up with it themselves. They bought the $ 50,000 QDOS system from Seattle Computer Products, which was developed by Tim Paterson. They did adapt the system and refined it. MS-DOS would become the heart of every IBM PC and its numerous clones and grow into Windows, still the most used operating system in the world.
Word and Office
Both Windows and the well-known Word word processing software Word were introduced in their first version by Gates and Allen in 1983. To this day, Word is the foundation under Office, the software package that is present on virtually any PC.
Incidentally Allen already returned in 1983 as Vice President of Microsoft. At that time, another form of blood cancer, Hodgkin, was diagnosed.
“If you get such a shock on your 30th – face your own mortality – you want to do a few things you have not done yet,” he would say later.
He founded an investment company that invested money in science, space travel and nuclear energy. Allen remained a member of the board of directors of Microsoft until 2000. In 2010 he announced that he would donate most of his assets to charity.
“I am devastated by the death of one of my oldest and dear friends,” Bill Gates said in a statement.