Paul AllenJanuary 21, 1953) is an entrepreneur who first established himself by co-founding Microsoft Corporation with Bill Gates. He regularly appears on lists of the richest people in the world; as of 2004 he is ranked by Forbes magazine as the fifth richest, worth an estimated $21 billion, $5 billion of which is in Microsoft stock.
Allen was born in Seattle, Washington. At Lakeside School, Paul Allen (14 years old) and friend Bill Gates (12 years old) became early computer enthusiasts. Allen went on to attend Washington State University, though he dropped out after two years to pursue his and Gates's dream of writing software commercially for the new "personal computers".
They founded Microsoft (initially "Micro Soft") in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1975, and began selling a BASIC interpreter. Allen spearheaded a deal for Microsoft to buy an operating system called QDOS for $50,000. Microsoft won a contract to supply it to for use as the operating system of IBM's new PC. This became a foundation of Microsoft's remarkable growth.
Currently Allen is the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers (an NBA basketball team) and the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He also owns Rose Garden Arena, the home court of the NBA Blazers team. Due to declining attendance in 2002 and 2003, as well as difficulties renegotiating the terms of a 1993 loan, the Rose Garden corporation filed for bankruptcy on February 27, 2004.
He owns (through Rose City Radio Corporation) some Portland radio stations. When he heard Seattle's Cinerama movie theater was about to shut down, he bought, restored, and updated it into a showplace for movies of all formats. He is also one of the principal financiers behind the SETI project, having stepping in to rescue the project when NASA stopped funding it in the 1990s.
In 1984 he founded Asymetrix, a software development company based in Bellevue, Washington. Asymetrix later went on to become Click2learn.com and yet later merged with Docent to become Sum Total System (2004). In the 1990's the company began to specialize in software for developing and delivering computer-based learning.
In December 2003 he announced that he was the sponsor behind the SpaceShipOne private rocket plane venture from Scaled Composites, as part of the ANSARI X PRIZE competition. In June 2004, SpaceShipOne became the first successful commercial spacecraft when it passed the 100 kilometer threshold of space.
In September 2003, Allen founded the Allen Institute of Brain Science pledging $100 million in seed money to the Seattle-based organization. Its inaugural project is the Allen Brain Atlas, a map of the human brain which will be made publicly accessible. The Brain Atlas is a component of the loosely formed Human Cognome Project.
Starting in 2003, Vulcan Ventures began funding Project Halo, an attempt to apply Artificial Intelligence techniques to the problem of producing a digital Aristotle that might serve as a mentor, providing comprehensive access to the world's knowledge.
He is also the founder of the Experience Music Project, originally inspired by his interest in a museum to house his considerable collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia. In June 2004, Allen opened the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, located at the Experience Music Project.
Allen owns the Flying Heritage Collection.