Paul Allen: So Much More Than Microsoft’s Co-Founder

It’s only fitting today on Popular Culture Talk to talk about a man that made a huge impact on popular culture as we know it and use it today. Paul Allen was a brilliant man and a philanthropist. Personal computers, conservation, pro football, rock n’ roll and rocket ships: Paul G. Allen couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend, invest and donate the billions he made from co-founding Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates.

Allen died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to his company Vulcan Inc. He was 65. Just two weeks ago, Allen, who owned the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, had announced that the same cancer he had in 2009 had returned.

Paul Allen’s influence is firmly imprinted on the cultural landscape of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, from the bright metallic Museum of Pop Culture designed by architect Frank Gehry to the computer science center at the University of Washington that bears his name.

Bill Gates, who met Allen at a private school in Seattle, said he was heartbroken to have lost one of his “oldest and dearest friends.”

“Personal computing would not have existed without him,” Gates said in a statement, adding that Allen’s “second act” as a philanthropist was “focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world.”

Over his lifetime, Allen gave more than $2 billion to efforts aimed at improving education, science, technology, conservation and communities.

“Those fortunate to achieve great wealth should put it to work for the good of humanity,” Allen wrote several years ago, when he announced that he was giving the bulk of his fortune to charity. He said that pledge “reminds us all that our net worth is ultimately defined not by dollars but rather by how well we serve others.”

Allen, who played guitar, built a gleaming pop culture museum in his hometown to showcase his love of rock n’ roll, and funded underwater expeditions that made important shipwreck discoveries, including a U.S. aircraft carrier lost during World War II.

When Allen released his memoir, he allowed “60 Minutes” inside his home on Lake Washington, across the water from Seattle, revealing collections that ranged from the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock to vintage war planes and a 300-foot yacht with its own submarine.

“My brother was a remarkable individual on every level,” his sister Jody Allen said in a statement. “Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern,” she added.

 

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