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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies, aged 65

Computer programmer who helped propel Microsoft to become one of the world’s largest businesses will be remembered for his generosity

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died yesterday afternoon in Seattle, aged 65, from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, pioneering programming in the age of the home computer.

In the book Beginning Microsoft Small Basic, authors Philip Conrod and Lou Tylee described how Basic (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Code), which was developed at Dartmouth College, was rewritten for the world’s first home computer, the $1,000 Altair 8800, by Gates and Allen, who formed Microsoft to sell the new software.

Microsoft Basic was ported to a number of groundbreaking home computers, including the TRS-80, the Commodore 64 and the Apple II, and cemented Microsoft’s name as a computing pioneer.

Allen and Gates’ meteoric rise came through a deal of the century, in which the pair allegedly bought quick and dirty Dos (disk operating system) from Digital Research for $50,000 and licensed it to Big Blue for its new Project Chess idea, the IBM PC.

Allen left Microsoft in 1982, and in 1986 set up media and communications investment firm Vulcan.

In a statement from Vulcan, current CEO Bill Hilf said: “All of us who had the honour of working with Paul feel inexpressible loss today. He 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 a profound and lasting impact.

“Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal.

“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.”

According to Associated Press, Allen is estimated to have donated more than $2bn to philanthropy in science, education and wildlife conservation.

He owned the Seattle Seahawks football team, the Portland Trailblazers basketball team and the American space transportation venture Stratolaunch.

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