Paul Gardner Allen born January 21, 1953 is an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He co-founded Microsoft alongside Bill Gates. In August 2018, he was estimated to be the 46th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $20.2 billion.
Allen is the founder and Chairman of Vulcan Inc., which manages his various business and philanthropic efforts. Allen has a multibillion-dollar investment portfolio including technology and media companies, real estate holdings, and stakes in other companies. He owns two professional sports teams: the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League and the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association, and is part-owner of the Seattle Sounders FC, which joined Major League Soccer in 2009.
He is the founder of Allen Institute for Brain Science, Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Institute for Cell Science, and Stratolaunch Systems.
Paul Allen was born on January 21, 1953, in Seattle, Washington, to Kenneth Sam Allen and Edna Faye (née Gardner) Allen. Allen attended Lakeside School, a private school in Seattle, where he befriended Bill Gates, two years younger, with whom he shared an enthusiasm for computers. They used Lakeside’s Teletype terminal to develop their programming skills on several time-sharing computer systems. They also used the laboratory of the Computer Science Department of the University of Washington, doing personal research and computer programming; on at least one occasion in 1971 they were banned from the laboratory for abuse of their privileges there. According to Paul Allen, he and Bill Gates in their teenage years, would go dumpster diving for computer program code. After obtaining a perfect SAT score of 1600 and graduating, Allen went to Washington State University, where he joined Phi Kappa Theta fraternity, but dropped out after two years in order to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston, near where Bill Gates had ended up as well. Allen later convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard University in order to create Microsoft. Gates explained his official status with Harvard that, “… if things Microsoft hadn’t worked out, I could always go back to school. I was officially on a leave of absence.”
In 1975, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Paul Allen and his friend Bill Gates began marketing a BASIC programming language interpreter. Allen came up with the original name of “Micro-Soft,” as a 1995 Fortune magazine article recounted. In 1980, after promising to deliver IBM a Disk Operating System (DOS) they had not yet developed for the Intel 8088-based IBM PC, Allen spearheaded a deal for Microsoft to purchase a Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) written by Tim Paterson, who, at the time, was employed at Seattle Computer Products. As a result of this transaction, Microsoft was able to secure a contract to supply the DOS that would eventually run on IBM’s PC line. This contract with IBM proved the watershed in Microsoft history that led to Allen’s and Gates’ wealth and success. Allen effectively left Microsoft in 1982 due to serious illness. Allen officially resigned from his position on the Microsoft board of directors in November 2000 but was asked to consult as a senior strategy advisor to the company’s executives. He still owns a reported 100 million shares. Bill Gates reportedly asked Paul Allen to give him some of his share to compensate for the higher amount of work being performed by Gates. Allen thought this was warranted, however when the time came[when?] for the adjustment to occur, Gates decided not to proceed. Instead, Gates tried to buy Allen out at a low price, however Allen refused and left the company with his share intact. This proved critical to Allen becoming a billionaire after Microsoft went public.
In 1989, Paul Allen donated $2 million to the University of Washington to construct the Allen Library, which was named after his father Kenneth S. Allen, a former associate director of the University of Washington library system. In the same year, Allen donated an additional $8 million to establish the Kenneth S. Allen Library Endowment. In 2012, the endowment was renamed the Kenneth S. and Faye G. Allen Library Endowment after Allen’s mother (a noted bibliophile) died.
In 2002, Allen donated $14 million to the University of Washington to construct the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering. The building was dedicated in October 2003.
In 2010, Allen announced a gift of $26 million to build the Paul G. Allen School of Global Animal Health at Washington State University, his alma mater. The gift is the largest private donation in the university’s history.
In 2016, Allen pledged a $10 million donation over four years for the creation of the Allen Discovery Centers at Tufts University and Stanford University. The centers would fund research that would read and write the morphogenetic code. Over eight years the donation could be as much as $20 million.
In 2017, Allen donated $40 million (with an additional $10 million added by Microsoft) to reorganize the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering department into the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering.
Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982. His cancer was successfully treated by several months of radiation therapy.
Allen has never married and has no children. He has been, at times, reclusive.
Paul Allen has received various awards recognizing many different areas including sports, philanthropy, and the arts:
On March 9, 2005, Paul Allen, Burt Rutan, and the SpaceShipOne team were awarded the 2005 National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement.
In 2007 and 2008, Allen was listed among the Time 100 Most Influential People in The World.
He received the Vanguard Award from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association on May 20, 2008.
On October 30, 2008, the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors honored Allen for his “unwavering commitment to nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest and lifetime giving approaching US$1 billion.”
In 2009, Allen’s philanthropy as the long-time owner of the Trail Blazers was recognized with an Oregon Sports Award
On October 26, 2010, Paul Allen was awarded the W.J.S. Krief Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of neuroscience by the Cajal Club.
On January 26, 2011 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Paul Allen was named Seattle Sports Commission Sports Citizen of the Year, an award that has been renamed the Paul Allen Award.
In 2011, Paul Allen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
On October 15, 2012, Allen received the Eli and Edythe Broad Award for Philanthropy in the Arts at the National Arts Awards.
On February 2, 2014, Allen received a Super Bowl ring as the Seattle Seahawks won the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
On October 22, 2014, Allen received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Seattle Business Magazine for his impact in and around the greater Puget Sound region.
On December 31, 2014, Online philanthropy magazine, Inside Philanthropy, made Allen their inaugural “Philanthropist of the Year” for his ongoing effort to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, breaking ground on a new research center in Seattle, and his battle to save the world’s oceans.
On July 18, 2015, Ischia Global Film and Music Festival recognized Allen with the Ischia Humanitarian Award. Event organizers honored Allen for his contributions to social issues through his philanthropic efforts.
On August 25, 2015, Allen was named a recipient of the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy for his work to “save endangered species, fight Ebola, research the human brain, support the arts, protect the oceans, and expand educational opportunities for girls.”
On October 3, 2015, the Center for Infectious Disease Research presented Allen with the 2015 “Champion for Global Health Award” for his leadership and effort to fight Ebola.
On December 10, 2016, Allen (as co-owner of the Seattle Sounders) won the 2016 MLS Cup.
Honorary degree from the Washington State University. The university bestowed its highest honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, upon him.
Honorary doctorate in Philosophy from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Honorary doctorate of Science from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Watson School of Biological Sciences.
Honorary degree from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
In 2011, Allen’s memoir Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft, was published by Portfolio, a Penguin Group imprint. The book recounts how Allen became enamored with computers at an early age, conceived the idea for Microsoft, recruited his friend Bill Gates to join him, and launched what would become the world’s most successful software company. The paperback version of Idea Man, which included a new epilogue, came out on October 30, 2012.