Additionally, Paul Allen was an advocate for open science. Through AI2 he directly supported arxiv.org and funded the development of Semantic Scholar. I had an opportunity to participate in a gathering of scientists, academics and publishers organized by Vulcan and the Allen Institutes to investigate innovations to support open science. Alexandra Elbakyan (founder of Scihub) was skyped in (technically on the run) to share her advocacy of accessible and open science. It was surprising and inspiring to see that Paul Allen provided Alexendra a platform to share her experience (especially as several major publishers were in attendance).
His lasting legacy in AI will be the support of Semantic Scholar and the Alexandria (common sense) project. In neuroscience research, AIBs has made major breakthroughs in mapping the mouse brain and producing prolific open datasets (Allen Brain Atlas) to support research.
In Seattle, it was hard to not run into the influence of Paul Allen. From the Seattle Seahawks to the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPoP), Paul Allen had an impact everywhere in Seattle.
It is sad to see him pass away. He has a immense impact on both Seattle and scientific research. I hope both AI2 and AIBs will continue doing amazing work as part of his legacy.
The whole South Lake Union urban office park that Amazon now dominates was Paul Allen's work also. (see https://www.seattletimes.com/business/timeline-of-paul-allen...)
At least we passed ST3...
The team has had its fair share of problems too, but they’re always entertaining.
But my personal favorite, even if it doesn't benefit large swaths of humanity in the same way as a cell research insitute:
It's a computer museum, but they work. They're turned on, and you can use them! You can program them; you can even get an account to access ancient computers over the internet (via telnet).
For example, look at the cool as hell control panel and general design of this thing! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Sigma_9 -- light bulbs add something to computers that LEDs don't. :)
If nothing else, it makes us nerds happy. Thanks, Paul.
I was hired as "night operator" for a timesharing company in Phoenix called Transdata. Their service ran on a Sigma 5, but they didn't offer the service at night.
So my graveyard shift gave me full access to the Sigma 5 to do whatever I wanted. I learned BASIC, assembly language, and Algol 60. And the art of writing an entire useful program on a single punch card.
One single-card program we used a lot was a simple print program. You'd put the program card at the front of the deck, and it would load and then print out the contents of all the cards after it.
Only problem was it was a bit slow. It had a single buffer that it read a card into, then printed the contents, then read the next card and so on.
I looked at it and realized I could squeeze in just enough code to make it double-buffered. It could read the next card at the same time it was printing the previous one. Twice as fast!
Not much by today's standards (unless you're into code golfing), but it was a lot of fun at the time.
I took my son and father there, and it was a great time.
For my dad and I, it was great to revisit computing through our lifetimes, (for me) starting with the working Amiga 1000, learning basic on the fly to help my son write "Hello World" (he's 2), then playing Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe, and having 1/2 my family drown attempting to ford the river.
You learn many things of how computers evolved by using them. Like seeing your terminal session printed and how the display is actually some sort of never-ending paper. Also making your own punch cards or hearing the noise of mainframes cooling systems.
Damn, it hurts to see Paul Allen go. Hope they keep the museum intact.
I'm so grateful that people like Paul invested in giving people the means to interact with such iconic machines and kept them running - the value of places like this is immense.
I had just been reading about the history of Xerox Parc when I went to the museum, and being able to then use that machine was the most magical experience I've had in a museum.
Thanks Paul and everyone else who makes the Living Computers Museum live.
His legacy in the Institutes, in his philanthropic ventures, and in the bones of Seattle itself cannot be overstated. Outside of the sciences, he built South Lake Union (home of Amazon and many other tech companies), saved the Seahawks, supported thousands of famous musicians, and played a mean guitar himself.
I'll miss him.
We need more people like this.
Some of this stuff might be impossible, but there is only one way to find out. It takes a great person to throw themselves into the machine of failure for the benefit of humanity.
It is, ultimately, also philanthropy - it's just philanthropy on a timescale that is far greater than one life and far more than a few [million] lives.
People who push humanity forwards will be remembered forever - through their name on someone's lips, or their legacy in someone's hands. In many ways these type of people are immortal.
For those who don't know, he was also apparently a very capable guitar player, who according to Quincy Jones could "sing and play just like Jimi Hendrix".
Play one more riff in the sky computer man.
Thank you for everything. You are truly an inspiration. RIP.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Institute
 - https://alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/brain-science/about/te...
Keeping historically important aircraft airworthy is something that is keeping the dream of aviation alive. It is too sad that so many have been scrapped (the great flying boats all but went extinct), but this is one effort that sets an example - and benefits the humanity.
He wrote an autobiography called "Idea Man", which I'd recommend if you want to know more about the man who was quietly behind the revolution in computing that brought all of us here today.
R.I.P., Paul Allen :(
He made a dent.
I went to UW in the 90s when Allen library was brand new and the new CS building was just a dream.
It’s a magnificent museum and worth any lengths to visit.
... according to Quincy Jones & Questlove
Paul Allen: The Singularity Isn't Near
Kurzweil makes this comment:
IBM is now working with Nuance (a company I originally founded as Kurzweil Computer Products) to have Watson read tens of thousands of medical articles to create a medical diagnostician.
Given the history of Watson since these articles were written, I think it lends more weight to Allen's side of the argument.
When you know somebody didn't take calculus or didn't "get" it.
Either that, or he didn't explain what he meant.
(Not Paul Allen, just another interviewee.)
Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft
I often wonder what would have become of him had his parents not had the forethought to send him to Lakeside School; his family wasn't rich like Bill Gates' family; I imagine, with money, Gates would have done well whether or not he had gone to that school, but if Allen hadn't, and therefore hadn't met Gates, where would have gone?
It makes me think long and hard about my children's education. They'll get a fantastic education regardless of what school they go to, since we'll learn at home, but just how important is the networking? Does that itself supercede the education?
I guess biographies always make you ask yourself these what if questions, and often apply them to yourself.
Allen very plausibly was even more of an entrepreneur personality type than Gates was. It seems likely that Allen may well have pursued founding his own company in the absence of Gates.
From a very young age, Allen apparently had a strong penchant for science and technology. Striking out on your own, then as now, is maybe the best way to leap forward with new technology, versus laboring in the corner of a stuffy, conservative corporate behemoth like Honeywell (where Allen worked) or IBM.
Lakeside at a minimum very likely accelerated by several years his introduction to computer programming, due to the resources the school had. Then on top of that, he had a small group of friends to pursue those adventures with thanks to Lakeside, and they all had access to the same tech. The amplification value of all of that, has to be considerable.
Of course, it's also possible he would have been wildly successful as an early entrant. Who can say?
I fear there will be many more black bars in our future...
"Time fades even legend..."
Some things last more than others though, and I'm certainly not going to denounce propagating good ideas.
In portuguese there is a sonnet that goes
" (...) And I may say about love:
Let it not be immortal, seeing as it is a flame.
But let it be infinite while it lasts."
(Vinicius de Moraes)
- Woody Allen
> Some personal news: Recently, I learned the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma I battled in 2009 has returned. I’ve begun treatment & my doctors are optimistic that I will see a good result. Appreciate the support I’ve received & count on it as I fight this challenge
Just now: https://twitter.com/PaulGAllen/status/1051958128885940226
I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma six months ago. I'm a young guy, married, and with toddlers at home. The initial tumor was removed and I am now in the "waiting period" to see if it spread and if additional tumors present themselves. It's a very good prognosis, but hot dog if this news hasn't hit close to home, especially considering this fun fact:
My six-month PET scan is tomorrow.
We shall see what they find. In the meantime Paul Allen and his family will be in my prayers.
You are not alone. Joining a online forum of survivors will be useful as long as you pick a good forum. I am regular at https://lymphomasurvival.com
you hear these types of stories more often than of ones where people die of cancer not knowing they had cancer
This was the often praised UK NHS btw
I guess the Dutch system is not so bad after all. Or maybe you've got bad luck in that doctor, and I'm fortunate to have a good one. There's always some bad apples in every group.
His cancer had been in remission, but unfortunately it evolved into a much more aggressive form of plasma cell leukemia. He passed away within that week.
It's shockingly common, too. A close family friend saw progress from an experimental treatment against stage 4 pancreatic cancer (she basically stole some eighteen months of her life back; this cancer at this stage is notorious for being a quick and agonizing death sentence), but despite success in shrinking the metastasized tumor population down to just one, she had the misfortune of her cancer mutating such that the treatment was no longer effective.
She was felled two weeks after that discovery.
I'm so, so dreadfully sorry for your loss.
It is perhaps not so well understood that a cancer is not 'part of the person'. Our notions of good health presuppose the concept of a united system of physiological functions. Cancer doesn't follow this rule. It is an invasive, foreign organism who's singular purpose is to keep growing no matter what. It is less sophisticated than a virus in that respect. Assessed on a genomic level, you may have less in common with your cancer than you do with your neighbor.
it's sad to hear medicine still can't help someone who could spend billions to heal one body, i would expect different in 2018
If my death is noteworthy, I really hope I'm not eulogized with a bunch of animated gifs of sad faces.
Not many are willing to donate that much into funding a project whose chance of success is small, but whose success would change everything.
I'll also remember Paul for the Museum of Pop Culture, a wonderful gift to the Pacific Northwest. Born as the 'Experience Music Project' in 2000, it has since added a Sci-Fi museum which became the SFF Hall of Fame. Much appreciated by all fans of pop music and sci-fi, and a location for numerous cultural and educational events.
> The uploader has not made this video available in your country.
Does anyone have a link that is viewable outside the US?
My favorite anecdote from that time period was someone telling me that the first time they met him they were seated next to each other at dinner and he turned and asked "So, what's your favorite shark?"
(I mean I think it was at a dinner for something to do with the ocean/sharks so not totally crazy, but still - charming)
My heroes have always been those in the background who were more concerned about getting work done than talking about it.
I can think of no better example than Paul Allen.
So sorry to hear this. R.I.P.
I searched him up on Sunday while at the Seahawks game in London, and I saw that he was undergoing treatment, but his Twitter post made it seem like things were going well and that he'd pull through, so it's been a real shock to see that he's died.
He sounded like a great guy, and it's always nice to see the successful ones be great guys. Co-founder of Microsoft, a set of successful sports teams, numerous philanthropic donations and organisations. RIP.
I grew up in the Seattle area, and the constant threats of sports teams leaving (Mariners, Sonics, Seahawks) were sort of tiring. As a kid, I was thrilled to see the Mariners stay (Nintendo backed that one, IIRC) and enjoyed the new stadium. The Sonics got away (I'm guessing Allen already owned the Blazers at the time..?) but he was instrumental in keeping the Seahawks.
Around the time CenturyLink field was built, the Sounders became an MLS team. I don't remember the exact history, and I left Seattle around that time, but it's been awesome to see Seattle rally behind a top notch soccer team; the fan base is one of the strongest in the US, and the regional rivalry with the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps is a lot of fun to follow.
To be honest, the Sounders have the kind of following and give the city the kind of energy any city would be proud to have.
It will likely have to be sold.
RIP. An engineering titan. And humanitarian colossus. In addition to his triumphs in computation, philanthropy and neuroscience. His deep sea exploration team discovered the final resting places of some of the worst disasters in naval history: USS Indianapolis, USS Lexington, and USS Juneau. The images evoke a final frontier frozen in time. Befitting the legacy of one who forever tacked the course and speed of human affairs. We have have only ourselves now to fulfill that legacy of rapid progress into the era of a New Space age!
May he rest in peace.
RIP Paul Allen.
That, in turn, led to lower prices as hardware was commoditized, and to accessibility for millions worldwide who could never before buy a computer.
Actually, this reasoning checks out with current interpretations of monopoly law. Carry on.
Before Windows 95, to connect to the internet you had to do a fair bit of config.sys and network driver tweaking and use Peter Tattam’s Trumpet Winsock. Windows 95 incorporated TCP/IP into the operating system, paving the way for Netscape Navigator to reach quick adoption.
Standardization helped accelerate the growth of personal computing. While they were not necessarily open standards or the best standards, not having to worry about custom printer drivers freed up companies and software developers to write more apps...
Microsoft lost one of its two founders, so did Apple. Two of the most influential companies. How sad.
Amazon and Facebook are both a single man show, then we have Google, one of the two founders also had some health issues, though much less serious.
Steve Jobs was that way when he had cancer, kept on going until he passed on.
Separately that OS that made Microsoft as everyone knows they bought from another company.
A space company, half a billion into brain research, tens of millions more in other fields, environment efforts, multiple sports teams, cultural investments, etc. That's a fair loss, and I think the first few qualify adding "to humanity" as well.
Donated $2 billion in his lifetime.
"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God"
Some think wealthy people should be held to a higher moral standard for a number of reasons
Ultimately, the standard for the Christian is to become like Christ. To walk the path of the cross means to cover and take upon the sins of others, beholding all as worthy of the Kingdom and only oneself as deserving of Hell. This is what Christ did upon the cross for us, and it is what Christians are called to do for all. See the writings of St. Silouan the Athonite for more on this.
For those of us who are atheists, the messages would be to not place things above people and to take risks in aiding others. Usually the things we fear never materialize.
I have no reason to doubt your x4 common-year-person, but how does that relate to happiness? Arguably the only metric that matters in the end.
By the way, private flying to paris and 3 star restaurants? Eh... not bad, but what I'm really looking forward once I'm old is having enough free time to play MMORPGs again.
He had to have someone....
^ "We (almost) have BASIC" Allen calls MITS
Now I am sure there are those that will think it's in bad taste to bring this up. However I am not saying this to family or friends at a funeral. I am merely raising it so people can stop lionizing him because he was a co-founder of Microsoft.
Allen was with Microsoft for a short period of time and left pretty soon after they struck the deal with IBM for the OS. 1982. Edit: As such he contributed a nominal amount to Microsoft's success (and after all it was Bill Gates connections and hustle that got that deal).
Also interesting that the wikipedia page has no mention of the patent trolling it obviously appears to be cleaned of this info (as of this moment at least):
I don't have much use for patent trolls, or (for that matter) people who give six-figure sums to Republican PACs looking to maintain control of the House. It seems weird for a philanthropist who is also a cancer survivor to donate to people who fight scientific, environmental, and humanitarian progress at every turn. But this is one of those cases where it really is more appropriate to remember his contributions that almost everyone regardless of political or technical persuasion would consider good. We are unquestionably worse off without Paul Allen, especially here in the PNW.
It's an interesting contrast to the thread from 7 years ago about the death of Steve Jobs . Steve Jobs was a visionary, but he wasn't a philanthropist. His legacy is Apple, Allen's legacy is his contributions to charity. Gates will be the same, he will be remembered as the man who tried to eradicate malaria, not the man who made Microsoft Windows.
you don't amass this much wealth without profiting off of the work of others by exploiting a position of power, usually gained through ownership
The real leeches are the ones you don't condemn because you've never heard of them. They amass their wealth and live lavish lifestyles in private, never doing anything worthwhile that would bring attention.
Someone with real wealth tries to use it to make some positive impact on the world - Oh look, he has so much money! Kill the leech!
No one here is paying tribute because the man was a literal saint, and I've yet to see anyone praise him specifically for building Microsoft. They're simply thankful for the actions of a man that resonate directly with each individual; it's a pretty common thing to so when someone passes.
So, thanks for the heads up, though I'm pretty sure anyone familiar with Allen's numerous organizations, business and charities is also aware of his less noble pursuits. There will be plenty of opportunity to focus on the negative aspects but the polite thing to do at this time is stay quiet.
> There will be plenty of opportunity to focus on the negative aspects but the polite thing to do at this time is stay quiet.
To suppress Allen's destructive actions from the summary of his life is to encourage their repetition by others.
I don't have a particular opinion on how it should be 'discussed'. People can pay whatever respect that they want. Incidentally I do like the way you posed that question. In a respectful way and not attacking as some of the other comments (as well as replies on a similar comment I made). People who say things like 'so what have you done???'. Like unless you are that great nothing you say matters you peon. I find it strange when people will defend a person like Allen and trash someone (like me) who simply states an opinion when we know that Allen would not have given any of us the time of day or cared about us in any way. On the other hand many of us here would actually do something for a random HN stranger or help if they could (don't mean jump on the railroad tracks kind of help).
The 'upvotes' don't mean much either. Most likely many of those upvotes don't know about the early days of Microsoft (sans Allen of course). Microsoft is the 'don't be evil' company that Google was talking about. They would and will do anything to squash competition (Netscape only one example) that they could. Antitrust lawsuit by government. Etc. So the money that Allen used came from that company and that way of doing business.. Fine. I don't take a position on that just to stop lionizing the guy as if he is some kind of saint. Noting also that he is being celebrated not because he died and gave money away but because he was linked to a tech company that we all know (and some of us hate). That's all. When does HN talk about this type of thing? So the irony is that he had a very small part of the money that Msft made over the years that he gave away. He didn't work there for that long. And guess what? Despite what anyone thinks he is not 10 times as great (just like Woz) than dozens of people on HN who were simply not in the right place at the right time. So we are really celebrating luck more than anything.
> How much should his post-Microsoft accomplishments be negated enough by Microsoft's bad deeds?
Once again and in particular it's this 'fawning' that people do. It's over the top.
I do not feel bad for Lisa Jobs one iota. Plenty of people without rich or famous parents get treated much worse than she did. And those people aren't whining (all the way to the bank). Note that Lisa regardless of whether she got any of Steve's money did get a benefit from being associated with him. That is more than the rest of the people in the world with a parental situation of various types get. So I do not feel sorry for her and that even assumes the nominal tails that she told are even true. Guess what? My Dad is gruff as well. I learned to deal with it. I don't think I am unique in that respect. And I wasn't around much for my kids growing up. They were not impacted by it.
Secondly I honestly don't care if Steve was an insensitive asshole. Plenty of nobodies have to deal with this type of person and nobody will even care to listen to them. They will say 'yeah my boss is a dick as well'. And then they will be on to the next topic. Not only that but the truth is nobody is forced to work for Steve and if you get to the point in life of working for Steve you can work anywhere. Most of the other people (who have an abusive situation) don't have that option. That doesn't make it right but quite frankly it's not the end of the world.
And besides he put out great products. I am glad he busted everyone's ass and I get to use what he and his hard driven (and abused) team created. I don't care that he hurt their feelings. Deal with it. I have had my feelings hurt and so have you most likely, right? You deal with it or you try to move to a better situation. That is life.
You know if you need a brain operation and you find the best brain surgeon you are not going to not hire him or her if you find out he or she is a bit mean to his or her employees and/or ignores his or her kids. You will say 'I am dying and I don't care about that'. It's easy for people to say what Steve should have been. But honesty I am just glad he made good products. Most people will not agree with this because they think he could be both the creative guy that he was and nice and calm at the same time.
True about the grace period. However the exception to that is a direct attack on someone close to you in order to defend someone who is not even close or related to you. It goes like this: You are talking to a good friend, a co-worker, relative and so on. They hold a view that is different than yours on a topic. So fine tell them what you think and be honest. But don't do it in a way that screams 'you are wrong for the way you feel and you suck'. Don't get angry and don't get mad at them. Why? If not obvious because they are close to you and the topic or person you are discussing is not. You need them and no sense in burning a bridge.
By the way if you don't remember the early days (because of your age I suppose?) you will not really seat of the pants understand what a 'dick' (for lack of a better way to put it) Bill Gates was. Sure now he looks like 'older wise guy who helps mankind' but he really did anything and everything in order to get whatever business he could at the expense of anyone. I am not once again saying that he shouldn't have done that. But he was not a nice guy and Msft was not a 'nice' corporation and by the way the amount of aggravation that OS created was truly staggering. How many people suffered because of that crap that they turned out? You'd have to live through it (as a 'normal person' not a techie who benefited from the problems because they were paid to solve them) to truly understand this.
Wouldn't it be incredible if someone died and we could finally speak about them honestly?
"Nothing but good about the dead".
One of the early giants of my teens.
Edit: and it's up.
Speaking as someone who works in a nonprofit trying to get high end research done, funding is complicated--the equation is absolutely not More Money == More Progress. There are very tricky trade offs, perverse incentives, and huge talent bottlenecks, among other challenges. A lot of places I work closely around would turn down additional funding if it was offered, given other bottlenecks, the counterfactual use of that money, and the perverse incentives.
I didn't know Paul Allen at all, but if he's like other billionaires, he had teams of really smart people actively figuring out the actually correct amount of money to put in the actually correct places, to actually make a difference.
They might have been wrong in their analysis, but I'm confident that in no world did Paul ever say to himself, "Well, there is this slam dunk cause I could give to that would help a lot of people and more science forward, but instead I'll have a yacht with a music studio."
I hope one day when you look at somebody so loved and adored by all around him you are able to push past the hate and envy and be happy for them.
Until then please keep your negativity to yourself.