Paul Allen, Microsoft Co-founder and Technology Pioneer, Dies at 65 After Long Cancer Battle

Paul Allen
Americans for the Arts National Arts Awards Benefit Dinner, New York City – 15 Oct 2012
(Mandatory Credit: Photo by Will Ragozzino/BFA/REX/Shutterstock)

Paul Allen, a technology pioneer who helped launch the personal computer revolution as co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, has died, according to his company, Vulcan Inc.

The cause was complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a condition that surfaced in 2009 and returned just a few weeks ago. Allen was 65.

On Oct. 1, Allen wrote a short but upbeat note on his personal website, noting that “I’ve begun treatment & my doctors are optimistic that I will see a good result. Appreciate the support I’ve received & count on it as I fight this challenge.”

Washington Gov. Paul Inslee called Allen “a giant in Washington history.”

Gates, describing himself as “heartbroken” in a statement released by his office, said his friend “wasn’t content 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,'” Gates wrote. “That’s the kind of person he was.”

Allen helped found Microsoft in 1975 when he was 22, joining his longtime Seattle-area computer pal in a venture that transformed society.

While Gates went on to run Microsoft for decades, finally leaving to focus on his philanthropic efforts at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Allen left the upstart company in 1982 because of an illness and never returned full-time.

Instead, Allen, who was worth around $20 billion, quickly pivoted to a range of technology investments as well as a passion for cultural ventures such as the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Allen also was known as the owner of numerous mega-yachts and sports franchises, including the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

Vulcan CEO Bill Hilt, speaking for his company as well as the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, Stratolaunch Systems, the Allen Institute and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, said in a statement that “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,” Hilt said.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Marco della Cava and Elizabeth Weise