Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who had been suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, has died at the age of 65 on Monday, his family said.
Aside from a profound impact on global technology, the computing pioneer leaves behind a substantial and lasting philanthropic legacy that re-positioned his home town of Seattle as a cultural and scientific capital.
“My brother was a remarkable individual on every level. While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend," Allen's sister Jody said in a tribute posted on the website of Vulcan Inc, Allen's company.
"Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”
Allen's passing at a relatively young age is another stark reminder that for all of technology's achievements the humans that forge its advances are very mortal and often very private.
Allen had said earlier in October he had started treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
An official timeline of Allen's life shows he was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma aged just 29 in 1982.
Born in Seattle, Allen attended Washington State University for two years before dropping out to co-found Microsoft in 1975 with high school friend Bill Gates.
Allen, who left Microsoft in 1983, set up investment firm Vulcan Inc in 1986 to manage his billions.
Investments include ownership stakes in several professional sports teams, including the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer.
He ranked 44th on Forbes magazine’s 2018 list of billionaires with a $20.5 billion fortune, was a major benefactor in Seattle, funding everything from libraries and universities to brain research.
The many tributes to Allen's legacy have been effusive.
“Paul Allen’s contributions to our company, our industry and to our community are indispensable,” Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said in a statement.
“As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world.”
Speaking on behalf of Vulcan Inc., the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, Stratolaunch Systems, the Allen Institute and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said millions had been touched the generosity and persistent pursuit of a better world embodied by Allen.
Legacy forged on progress and generosity
Hilf said Allen had sought to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal and said the grief felt by those who had worked with him was "inexpressable".
"[Paul] possessed a remarkable intellect and a passion to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems, with the conviction that creative thinking and new approaches could make profound and lasting impact," Hilf said.
"Paul’s life was diverse and lived with gusto. It reflected his myriad interests in technology, music and the arts, biosciences and artificial intelligence, conservation and in the power of shared experience – in a stadium or a neighborhood – to transform individual lives and whole communities.
"Paul loved Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The impact of Paul’s efforts can be seen here at every turn. But the true impact of his vision and generosity is evident around the globe."
Continuity of endeavour
Hilf also tactfully emphasised continuity had been at the forefront of Allen's concerns as his time drew near.
"Paul thoughtfully addressed how the many institutions he founded and supported would continue after he was no longer able to lead them. This isn’t the time to deal in those specifics as we focus on Paul’s family. We will continue to work on furthering Paul’s mission and the projects he entrusted to us. There are no changes imminent for Vulcan, the teams, the research institutes or museums."
Paul G. Allen's timeline
- 1953: Paul Allen is born January 21, 1953 in Seattle, Washington
- 1968: While at Lakeside School, Paul meets Bill Gates. A friendship that would later produce one of the world’s most innovative companies, Microsoft.
- 1969: Attends first rock concert, where he sees Jimi Hendrix at Seattle Center Coliseum
- 1975: Founds Microsoft
- 1982: In September, Paul is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Nearly eight months later, doctors said he had beaten the disease.
- 1983: Officially resigns from Microsoft in March
- 1986: Founds Vulcan Inc. in Seattle as an investment and project management firm with his sister, Jody Allen
- 1988: Establishes The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
- 1988: Purchases the Portland Trail Blazers
- 1988: Rescues Seattle Cinerama from demolition by purchasing and restoring the theater
- 1990: The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation makes its first grant.
- 1990: Becomes a billionaire at age 37
- 1995: Makes his single biggest investment to date by purchasing a 18.5% stake in Dreamworks
- 1996: Purchases the St. Paul’s Hospital in London, which would reopen later after renovations as The Hospital Club
- 1997: Creates Vulcan Productions, an independent film production company
- 1997: Purchases the Seattle Seahawks, preventing the NFL team from relocating to California
- 2002: Donates $14 million to the University of Washington to construct the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering
- 2003: Launches the Allen Institute for Brain Science (AIBS) with $100 million in seed money
- 2004: SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately-based effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space, winning the Ansari X Prize
- 2004: Opens the Flying Heritage Collection, a private collection of warbirds, in Arlington, Washington
- 2008: Lifetime philanthropic giving reaches $1 billion in total
- 2009: Becomes a minority owner in Seattle Sounders, the MLS team
- 2011: Releases memoir “Idea Man”
- 2011: Announces the launch of Stratolaunch Systems. The venture’s goal is to create an air launch to orbit system
- 2012: Opens the Living Computer Museum, an interactive collection of vintage mainframes and machines, to the public in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood
- 2013: Announces expansion of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, aiming to model it after the Brain Science Institute
- 2014: Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos
- 2014: Pledges $100 million to support efforts to stop Ebola outbreak in West Africa
- 2014: Founds the Allen Institute for Cell Science
- 2017: Locates the wreck of the USS Indianapolis
- 2018: Dies on Oct. 15 in Seattle of complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma