Things You Didn’t Know About Paul Allen’s Life’s Work, Family and How He Died

Most of us primarily know Paul Allen as the co-founder of Microsoft. We also know that the business mogul and philanthropist was one of the wealthiest men in the world at the time of his demise. Did you, however, know that it was Allen who coined the term, Microsoft? Did you also know that the tech guru was a music enthusiast and released an album with his own rock band? All these and more interesting facts about Allen’s life, work, family and demise are unveiled below.

Paul Allen’s Early Life and Founding of Microsoft

Paul Gardner Allen was born on the 21st of January 1953 in Seattle, Washington. He attended a private school in Seattle where he met his close pal and future business partner, Bill Gates. The two were brought together by their mutual love and passion for computers. On completing high school, Allen headed to Washington State University to study Computer Science while Gates proceeded to Harvard. They however kept in touch and continued their collaborations. After stomaching two years of college, Allen dropped out and convinced Gates to do so as well so that they could both pursue their passion for computers and software.

Inspired by an article published on “Popular Electronics”, which featured the new Altair microcomputer kit manufactured by MITS computer, Allen and Gates relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the headquarters of MITS was located. After working for some time, and saving up $16,000, they established their own software company in 1975.

Paul Allen
Bill Gates and Paul Allen

The journey to success wasn’t a smooth ride but vision, persistence and hard work kept them going. Today, that little company that was started with just $16,000 is now valued at $89.95 billion. Microsoft is now a force to be reckoned with in the tech industry and is one of the most valuable companies in the world.

His Other Career Endeavors Outside Microsoft

Asides his ground-breaking strides with Microsoft, Paul Allen also made significant inroads in the real estate, research, sports, media, and aviation sectors. In the housing industry, his Vulcan Real Estate Company revitalized the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle. The area now houses the likes of Google and Amazon with office space reaching as high as $1.16 billion. In the research sector, Allen founded the Allen Institute for Brain Research, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Cell Research. All these agencies freely share their data and knowledge with members of the public by publishing same online.

Paul Allen also impacted Hollywood. His Vulcan Productions Company has churned out several award-winning movies, TV series and documentaries. Another area that felt Allen’s influence was the sports sector. Even though the Microsoft co-founder was a certified nerd, he was nevertheless passionate about sports. He purchased NBA side, Portland Trailblazers, in 1988 and NFL franchise, the Seattle Seahawks, in 1996. Allen did not run these teams as just another business venture. He passionately cheered them on and the teams rewarded him as well. The Trailblazers made it to two NBA finals while the Seahawks made it to three Super Bowls, emerging victorious in the 2014 edition.

All these ventures listed above culminated in a net worth of $20.3 billion, making Allen the 44th wealthiest person in the world as of March 2018. The Microsoft co-founder utilized this humongous fortune for the finer things of life such as yachts and golf courses. He also dedicated a great deal to charity. Allen supported several admirable courses in his lifetime including the fight against the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He not only committed $100 million in funds but also spearheaded a summit aimed at further action. The business mogul did not stop at that. His company also produced a critically-acclaimed documentary about the courageous Red Cross workers at the forefront of the fight.

Paul Allen’s Family Life

Paul Allen hailed from a family of four. His late father, Kenneth, was a librarian while his late mother, Edna, was a teacher. The tech guru also had a sister named Jody Allen. Jody is an astute business executive and helped her brother to run his Vulcan group of companies. Following his demise, she was named as the sole heir to his estate. It, therefore, means that she is tasked with the onerous responsibility of giving away half of her brother’s wealth to charities. Allen had signed the Giving Pledge in 2010, promising to give away no less than half of his fortune.

Paul Allen
Allen and his sister, Judy

Asides his blood relatives, Paul Allen did not have his own family as he was never married. The late mogul had stated in several interviews that he would very much like to marry and start a family but that dream never came to fruition. He, therefore, had to content himself with dating. Allen dated tennis champ, Monica Seles, for several years in the 80s. They later called it quits in 1998 and he moved on with Jerry Hall in 1999. This particular romance lasted for just some months. At the time of his demise, Allen was in a relationship with Leigh Colier, vice president of programming and development at CBS Television Distribution. Their romance commenced as far back as 2011.

What Caused His Demise?

Mankind is yet to find a solution to mortality and as such, no matter how good or wealthy an individual is, they must still succumb to death at some point. For Paul Allen, that point was in October 2018. The business magnet passed away as a result of septic shock arising from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Allen was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in the early 80s. He successfully battled the disease and spent the next three decades without any issues. The disease however flared up in 2009, this time as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but Allen succeeded in conquering it again.

He enjoyed a new lease of life for the next nine years before the cancer reared up its head again in October 2018. The Microsoft co-founder immediately commenced treatment but gave up the ghost on the 15th of October 2018. Allen’s’ demise led to an outpouring of tributes from several quarters. The city of Seattle also honored a son who had done so much for them by lighting the city’s major landmarks in blue. Allen was later interred at the Acacia Memorial Park in his hometown of Seattle, Washington.

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Stephen Angbulu
Stephen Angbulu
Stephen’s essays have been published by the Embassy of Ireland, Nigeria. He has also been featured on interviews with BBC News Africa and Daily Trust Newspaper. Stephen has over 6 years experience writing on a wide range of topics from biographies to lifestyle and entertainment. He has authored several articles, journal entries, book reviews, short stories, flash fiction and essays on both local and international media


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