£17bn Microsoft genius dies at 65 without having realised his dream of having a wife and children
After all, the Microsoft co-founder – once the third richest man in the world – has long been overshadowed by his more business savvy school pal Bill Gates.
“Idea man” Allen, who died on Monday aged 65, not only came up with the name Micro-Soft in 1975 he also persuaded Gates to give up university in order to form a software company for a personal computer industry that didn’t even exist at the time.
Friends since Allen was aged 14 and Gates just 12 the pair developed the Windows program which operates almost 90 per cent of computer systems in the world.
As “heartbroken” Gates put it last last night that the “personal computing would not have existed without” Allen and Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s current chief executive, added “he changed the world.’’
Not bad for a pair of American kids who’d started out searching for source code in skips.
Allen signed a deal in 1980 to provide IBM with the software they needed for their first home computers, even though he didn’t have the program needed for the job.
Thinking quickly, he bought an operating system from a programmer that they transformed into Windows’ predecessor MS-DOS.
Tragically, it was the cancer which took Allen’s life on Monday that also prevented him from becoming a long-term tech titan.
The pair’s relationship soured when his diagnosis with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1983 meant he was too sick to devote as much time to the business as Gates.
The co-founder overheard his more hard headed partner talking about reducing Allen’s stake in the company, while “bemoaning my recent lack of production.”
Having recovered from his illness Allen refused to sell his shares to Gates, but left the company in 2000 to invest in various businesses – and LOTS of toys.
Indeed, when it came to spending tech billions no one was in the same league as him.
He was the boy in the sweet shop who had the means to buy the sweet shop and the sweet manufacturer.
Worth £17billion he purchased the guitar Jimi Hendrix used at Woodstock, a fleet of World War II aircraft, a first folio by William Shakespeare, Captain Kirk’s chair from the original Star Trek TV show and an antenna to search for alien life.
But it couldn’t buy him the love and children he so desired.
When he released his memoirs seven years ago Allen said in a rare interview “I’m still optimistic. I still believe I’m going to meet somebody. I want to have a family.”
He died having never married and without an heir.
Allen once dated tennis star Monica Seles and was most recently seen out with movie executive Leigh Collier.
Yet he was accused of abusing his position of power with five female employees.
One of them, Abbie Phillips, took him to court for sexual assault before a private settlement saw the case dropped.
Her lawyer said in 1998 that Allen had a history of “developing crushes, lavishing gifts and vacations on, and then firing, married female employees’.
The reason the portly, nerdy looking man chose to date staff was probably that he failed to invest in a personal stylist and he didn’t get out much.
Alternatively, labelled the Howard Hughes of the hi-tech age or a real life Great Gatsby, few recognised him.
Allen admitted: “My face is not well-known. So if somebody runs into me at a party, typically they have no idea if I’m just one of the guitar players in the band or if I’m the host.”
He was so guarded about his private life that he asked his famous guests to sign non-disclosure agreements before attending his extravagant parties.
The big names who were flown first class to his shin digs included Sir Paul McCartney, Bono, Tom Hanks, Robbie Williams, Mick Jagger, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
For his 45th birthday he splashed out £5.5million on cruise ship to Alaska and at the Cannes Film Festival he held a Bollywood themed bash.
One of Allen’s greatest indulgences was music.
Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters played at his Halloween party, Stevie Wonder and Jon Bon Jovi jammed with him and he was the guitarist in a group called Grown Men.
The shy, spectacled man desperately need the glitz and glamour that rock stars could lend to him.
Allen had a reputation for lacking social skills, turning his back on party guests when he got bored with their conversations.
There were always plenty of expensive baubles to wow any visitors.
On the walls of his numerous homes could be found art masterpieces by Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, Manet, Renoir, Rothko and Lichtenstein.
For transport his pick of 15 plus planes included two Boeing 757s, a Messerschmitt 109, a Spitfire and if he preferred sailing there were three yachts available.
The most impressive of all was the 414ft Octopus, the biggest yacht in the world when he bought it, which cost £12million a year to run.
So huge is the eight level ocean going cruiser that it has two helicopters, seven boats, a ten-man submarine and a recording studio where both The Beastie Boys and Mick Jagger’s group SuperHeavy made albums.
The other interests the entrepreneur got involved with through business ventures were movies, sport and getting out of this world.
Allen invested in Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio and in SpaceShipOne, which was the first private craft to put a civilian in suborbital space.
He owned Portland Trail Blazers basketball side and the Seattle Seahawks American football team. Allen had also tried to buy Premier League football side Southampton.
As you can imagine, his homes dazzled. They included Rock Hudson’s former Beverly Hills mansion, an island off the coast of Washington, a house in London’s upmarket Holland Park, a 10,000-square-foot waterfront main home in Seattle and a modernist Malibu beach front pad which he ditched because he “hated the sound of the ocean.”
But Allen didn’t blow all his cash on status symbols, he also donated £1.7 billion to good causes, including science, cleaning up the oceans and homelessness.
Having suffered from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma three times, the cancer finally ended his life, he was most keen on medical research.
His Allen Institute has 470 employees focusing mainly on brain and cell science.
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said: “Our industry has lost a pioneer and our world has lost a force for good.”
With no heirs to pass down his fortune to, his younger sister Jody Allen is likely to continue his business and philanthropic works.
Not all his investments proved to be prudent and Allen slipped down to the 44th richest man in the world, a long way behind Gates, who currently sits on the second largest pile of dollars.
Despite, having been eased out of the software giant Allen remained on good terms with Gates.
He accepted that he didn’t have his old friend’s unquenchable drive and didn’t put up a fight when his share of Microsoft was reduced to 36 per cent.
In his tribute Gates concluded: “Paul loved life and those around him, and we all cherished him in return.
“He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.”
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