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Who Was Paul Allen? 9 Interesting Little-Known Facts About The Late Microsoft Co-Founder

A look at the life of Paul Gardner Allen, Entrepreneur, co-founder of Microsoft and philanthropist

Bill Gates and Paul Allen, 1981

This week the world lost one of the most successful and interesting men of our time. Paul Allen died on October 15, 2018. Cause of death was complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Although Allen died at the relatively young-ish age of 65, most would agree that he lived a full, extraordinary life. It was easy to miss the news of his passing this week, with all the headlines coming at us so fast, and also due to the fact that the Microsoft co-founder, billionaire and sports team owner, lived a relatively low-key life.

I once mentioned, in passing, to my wife that "the Portland Trailblazers was owned by Paul Allen", and wife's response was: "Paul who?" So I told her that Paul Allen had started Microsoft with Bill Gates and that the two were childhood friends.

She said she had no idea he was, and that this was the first time she was hearing his name. Truth is, not many outside the business world knew his name or that he funded SpaceShipOne, whose mission is to become the world's first commercial space vehicle. Some say, he deliberately chose to live his life outside the spotlight.

Who Was Paul Allen?

Paul Gardner Allen was born on January 21, 1953, in Seattle, Washington, to Kenneth Sam Allen and Edna Faye Allen. He attended Lakeside, a Seattle private school, where he became friends with the slightly-younger Bill Gates. The two bonded over their shared passion for computers.

The two would work on various computer programs in their spare time, both at Lakeside and at the Computer Science Department of the University of Washington. According to Allen, he and Gates would go dumpster-diving for computer program code, during their teenage years.

After graduating and obtaining a perfect SAT score of 1600, Allen went to Washington State University, where he joined Phi Kappa Theta fraternity; after two years, however, he dropped out in order to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston, near Harvard University where Bill Gates had ended up.

Allen later convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard in order to create Microsoft.

9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Paul Allen

During the course of his life, Allen gave approximately $2 billion to Charity and was the sole or major contributor to various causes, from environmental initiatives to film and the arts. He was also an avid sports fan and was the owner of several major sports franchises.

1. Pledged $100 million to fight Ebola through his Tackle Ebola initiative.

2. Funded SpaceShipOne, whose mission was to become the world's first commercial space vehicle. A mission, which was accomplished in 2005.

3. Funded The EMP (Experience Music Project) in Seattle with $100 million of his own money.

4. Owned Portland Trail Blazers basketball team.

5. Owned the Seattle Seahawks football team.

6. Donated $14 million to the University of Washington to build the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering.

7. Was a part owner of Seattle Sounders FC, a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise

8. Allen and his sister Jody Allen together produced such award-winning movies as Far from Heaven (2002), Hard Candy (2005), Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge (2005), and many more.

9. Funded The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, a nonprofit museum, dedicated to contemporary popular culture inside a Frank Gehry-designed building at Seattle Center.

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