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Remembering Paul Allen of Microsoft


Paul Allen was probably best known as the co-founder of Microsoft, but the company was only a part of a varied and diverse life for the tech entrepreneur. Paul Allen died yesterday from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 65. Simone Alicea from member station KNKX in Seattle has this remembrance.

SIMONE ALICEA, BYLINE: For most people, it would be enough to help change just one part of the world, but it wasn't for Paul Allen. As a boy, he devoured science fiction, and with it, visions of the future. Here he is talking to NPR in 2004.


PAUL ALLEN: The idea that, you know - when I was growing up - that everybody would carry around a portable communicating device, that was science fiction when I was a kid.

ALICEA: Allen co-founded Microsoft with his high school friend, Bill Gates, in 1975. At that time, the company's early vision was also that of science fiction. They wanted to put a computer on every desk in every home. Ed Lazowska can explain just how radical that was. He's the Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington.

ED LAZOWSKA: It is impossible to overstate the importance of Microsoft at a time when mainframe computers were the norm and desktop computers were sort of hobbyist toys. Just extraordinary vision.

ALICEA: Allen was only at Microsoft until the early '80s, when he was first diagnosed with cancer. He recovered and launched himself into what seemed like boundless pursuits - space exploration, sports - he owned the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers - real estate, brain research, art, music, each project leading to championships, scientific breakthroughs and the remaking of a city. The moves came both in the form of business investments and in philanthropic giving. It was Allen's time at Microsoft and the fortune he made there that gave him the freedom to pursue these interests.


ALLEN: I just try to find things that either need to be done, should be done or where I can make a difference in a significant way. And the things I've been able to participate in have been very, very exciting.

ALICEA: That enthusiasm followed him in everything he did. In a statement, his sister, Jody Allen, said, my brother was a remarkable individual on every level.

For NPR News, I'm Simone Alicea in Seattle. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Simone Alicea