Monday, April 03, 2006

Robert X. Cringely -- Paul Allen and the Microsoft Empire

Robert X. Cringely tells a fascinating story, almost mythic, about Paul Allen, former boss at Microsoft.

Paul Allen is one week older than me. I have more kids but he has more toys -- a LOT more toys -- including professional football and basketball teams, SpaceShipOne, lots of planes and a HUGE boat. Allen is an enthusiast of epic proportions, but one of my fondest images of him was from the 20th anniversary party for the Altair 8800 computer (arguably the first PC), when Paul Allen-the-billionaire wanted some fast food late at night and -- not having a car -- WALKED through the drive-through as part of a long line of cars.

Having set the stage, Cringely relates a twenty-year-old story...

In the Boys’ Club that was Microsoft in those days, maybe the concept of mortality was too abstract, maybe Allen’s poor health wasn’t as obvious to those around him every day as it was to the IBM team that visited from time to time. To his credit, Allen stayed long enough to finish the job, delivering DOS 2.0 then leaving the company forever, eventually to have a bone marrow transplant that cured him completely.

But during one of those last long nights of working to finish-up DOS 2.0, something happened. I have heard this story from two people, each of whom was a friend of Allen’s and in a position to know. Each told me the same story the same way. I am not staking my reputation on the accuracy of the story, but I am saying I have it from two good sources. Paul Allen certainly won’t confirm or deny it, so I’ll just throw it out for you to consider.

Dirty linen follows. Interesting, indeed. And according to Cringely, about to become timely. Those with a voyeuristic interest in the lives and fortunes of movers and shakers might want to take a look.

H/T blogsnow.

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