I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen. From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.
But Paul wasn’t content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, “If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.” That’s the kind of person he was.
Paul loved life and those around him, and we all cherished him in return. He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.
Gates and Allen met at Lakeside School in Seattle when Allen was 14 and Gates was 12. Their shared love for computers led them to spend hours in the University of Washington Computer Science Laboratory before they had even finished high school. They went on to co-found Microsoft less than a decade after they met. Gates dropped out of Harvard to pursue the project, which Allen reportedly proposed after reading an issue of Popular Electronics that featured the computer MITS Altair 8800.
The narrative of the close friendship between the two founders was somewhat disrupted by Allen’s 2011 memoir, Idea Man. In it he presented himself as the main driver of the ideas behind Microsoft, and Gates as a sounding board who helped hone the project. He also claimed that Gates pushed to dilute his stake in the company, a claim Gates said at the time he remembered differently. Allen left Microsoft less than 10 years after co-founding it due to a deteriorating relationship with Gates and a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis.
Allen’s death came two weeks after he announced the return of the non-Hodgkin lymphoma he had battled in 2009.