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Paul Allen has died (cnbc.com)
2901 points by coloneltcb on Oct 15, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 277 comments

I had an opportunity to work at both the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and the Allen Institute for Brain Science (AIBs). I was part of the 10 year strategic planning efforts at AI2. Paul Allen was both involved and hands-off in the support of the leadership AI2 and AIBs. It was a rare balance and Paul Allen knew how to create the conditions for innovation and novel research breakthroughs with micromanaging.

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.

> 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.

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...)

Only after Seattle voters rejected his much better Seattle Commons plan though (http://www.historylink.org/File/8252). Shame really.

Seattle voters have a track record of rejecting good things. See: The Rapid Transit Plan from the 70s.

At least we passed ST3...

It’s fun to see the same style applied to the Seahawks - he hired Pete Carroll to run the team the way he wants with the resources he needs. Without Paul Allen as the owner, our home team doesn’t win the 2013 Super Bowl.

The team has had its fair share of problems too, but they’re always entertaining.

He also hired Mike Holmgren, who coached them to their first Superbowl appearance in franchise history, behind the leagues top offense powered by Shawn Alexander.

Many here have noted his many large-scale philanthropic efforts, which are fantastic, and often benefit our whole species.

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.

That Sigma 9 photo brings back fond memories. An earlier version, the Sigma 5, was my first personal computer! Back in 1968.

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.

That story really makes me wonder if my understanding of computers would be deeper, or more complete in some way, if I'd had that sort of background/experience...

Take a course on compilers. It will teach you these things and give you a much more fundamental understanding.

Seconded! Also play with assembly language for a small CPU, even in an emulator. Doing assembly in the 68k and Z80 really helped me grok computers. Even the old assembly makes super CPUs of today more understandable.

For anyone reading this comment, living in the general Seattle area who hasn't visited the Living Computer Museum, I highly recommend it.

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.

Same, my daughter was 1.5. The people there were really nice, playing with her while I was geeking out. Sometimes my daughter would come and sit on my lap to watch what I was doing. It's really a special place and a very fond memory.

I didn't realize this was his work. I've visited that museum and it truly is amazing. You can play with working NeXT boxes, a working Alto (the screen resolution for that time is amazing to see in person), TI9As, tons of old HP-UX machines ... If you're ever in Seattle it is totally worth checking out .. that and the smaller (though less interactive) museum at Recycle PC.

It's by far my favorite museum. I always go every time I go to Seattle and there is always a new machine to play with.

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 was hoping people would mention the Living Computers museum, I had a chance to visit on a short trip to Seattle a couple of weeks ago and in the space of about 45 minutes I played a game of chess with a PDP-8 entering moves on a working teletype, wrote some BASIC on an original working Apple I and Altair, played a maze game on a Xerox Alto and played around with the fascinating UI on a NeXTstation. Capped it off with a game of Oregon Trail on a Mac SE.

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.

They have a working Xerox Alto with the original suite of Smalltalk programs as described in Personal Dynamic Media (Kay and Goldberg 1977)!

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.

It's a great museum. I gotta say even as a 80's programmer kid, those old computers are extremely hard to get to do anything. It had tens of old working computers I had never seen before, many from decades before I was born still running. Pretty incredible.

I was just there last weekend, and they have the ONLY apple 1 in the world that is hooked up to a monitor + keyboard that you can actually interact with (or so they claim it is) - it was very cool nonetheless.

Seconded. Paul loved IMSAIs, and the Living Computer Museum is a national treasure. Check out their work around Maze War

This place is wonderful - for someone like me who works with languages like C, but is quite young it was very valuable to be able to see how programming with older machines worked - and seeing the progression of things like Vi/Vim etc.

The Living Computer Museum is probably one of my top three favorite museums I've been to. I remember playing with dot-matrix printer teletype terminal connected to a PDP. That was really a trip.

I had no idea this existed! I love that I can get a login to a real PDP/11!

I worked as Paul's technical adviser at Vulcan - he was funny, warm, and prickly in turns, well aware of the outsized shadow he cast, and absolutely dedicated to bringing the sci-fi future he so loved into reality.

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.

> absolutely dedicated to bringing the sci-fi future he so loved into reality.

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.

>It takes a great person to throw themselves into the machine of failure for the benefit of humanity.

Great line!

I will remember him as long as I'm alive and I'll try that my sons remember him as well. He was one of those humans which we don't have a replacement for.

I didn't have the privilege to work with Vulcan, but they are a really awesome organization. I think Vulcan best exemplifies Paul Allen's approach to philanthropy, which focused on measurable results and data-driven change. For those unfamiliar, check out Vulcan's outstanding work with elephant atlas (https://elephant-atlas.org/) and the great elephant census (https://www.paulallen.com/remembering-the-great-elephant-cen...). When I was at AI2, the great elephant census was used as both a barometer and analogy to think critically about the value and impact of the research and tools our scientist were developing.

Incredibly sad news, only two weeks after he learned the disease returned.

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.


To be clear, it hasn't been stated that it was only two weeks after he learned the disease returned. That's when it was publicly acknowledged by Allen. He only said that it was recent that he learned about the recurrence. That could mean it was several months ago and Allen may have chosen for personal reasons to keep that information private.

And insturmental in the rock and roll tributes in seattle, i believe

He also has an impressive collection, including the white Strat that Hendrix used at Woodstock.


Wow, I didn't know Paul Allen played guitar! I wonder if this is a theme among Microsoft executives? Jim Allchin is also a very good blues guitarist.

This is a sad day. Paul Allen certainly had many achievements, but one of his endeavors that I truly admire is the founding and funding of the Allen Institute [0], especially after I had the pleasure of attending Christof Koch's lecture at the American Academy of Neurology annual conference two years ago [1].

Thank you for everything. You are truly an inspiration. RIP.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Institute

[1] - https://alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/brain-science/about/te...

Also, as an aviation enthusiast, I am really thankful for the Flying Heritage museum, which is one of his endeavors.

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.



The Allen Institutes are incredible organizations. They do these enormous Big Science projects that no single lab could ever do, generating beautiful datasets that the entire scientific community can use freely. All of their data is publicly available. Paul Allen's contributions to accelerating science are immense and cannot be understated.

Such sad news. Paul Allen was a friend of a friend, and so we got to go to a couple of his halloween parties up in Beverly Crest in Los Angeles. He was incredibly down to earth and generous. His parties were a blast – the main fixture was always him playing with a live band. He loved rock-and-roll music. We bumped into Dan Aykroyd at one of them, dressed as his character from Blues Brothers.

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 :(

SpaceShipOne, owned the Seahawks and the Blazers, sunk $500m in brain research, $100m into cell research another $100m into AI, started the -Rock & Roll Hall of Fame- Museum of Pop

He made a dent.

He was also the person responsible for UoW's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science, in total he donated around $50m (with another $10m in match from Microsoft) for the school's foundation.

Just the building, not the entire CSE department. Not to mention Allen library.

The library was named for Kenneth S. Allen, Associate Director of Libraries from 1960 to 1982, in recognition of his years of service to the Libraries, and in appreciation of a generous gift from his son, Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.


Yes, just like there are two gates halls/buildings named after Bill’s mom and dad. It is fortunate that the CSE building at UW is named after Allen rather than Gates, unlike MIT.

I went to UW in the 90s when Allen library was brand new and the new CS building was just a dream.

I was just at the Living Computer Museum, which he founded, last month. They said he'd just been there that morning to discuss some new acquisitions.

Do you mean Museum of Pop? (not Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

For interested parties, the Museum of Pop Culture (stylized as MoPOP) is the new name of the Experience Music Project (EMP) as of 2017. This was to reflect its wider scope into science fiction, fantasy, and popular culture at large.

It’s a magnificent museum and worth any lengths to visit.

MoPoP has one of the coolest Star trek exhibits! http://www.startrek.com/article/trek-exhibit-celebrates-new-...

That's the one! Thanks!

Previously known as EMP - the experience music project

Oh, and could play guitar just like Hendrix

... according to Quincy Jones & Questlove

We just had a giant "get well" card out last week for people to sign for him at UW's CS department (he's donated enough to us that we're named after him, the Paul G. Allen School of CSE). Almost surreal to see that he passed so soon. It's fortunate that he at least had the time to make a great positive impact on the world; his legacy will live on in many ways.

As a fellow member of a Paul G. Allen School (in this case the Global Animal Health one at WSU) I'm a little stunned - but he has indeed made a huge impact on the world.

I have to mention an article by Allen which I think is the single best critique of the idea fo the "singularity" which I have seen.

Paul Allen: The Singularity Isn't Near


There is Kurzweil's reponse to this piece linked at the bottom of that article. Since 7 years have passed, there is some opportunity to reflect on the two positions.

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.

Good article. I'll also add, progress on AI may also be severely restricted by energy usage. We can build supercomputers which by some measures match the complexity of biological systems, but they consume huge amounts of power compared to the 20W of the brain.

> There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth.

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.)

Interviewee? That's a quote from Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Kurzweil

Kurzweil really is the hand-waver of all hand-wavers. Exponential progress is the exception rather than the rule, due to hard physical limits.

d/dt e^t = e^t. So while vapid and pop-sci, technically true. Of course, the exponent is constant or we'd be talking about the Ackermanity instead.

Technically true, but the quote makes it sound as if this were not necessarily the case for some kinds of exponential growth, which is clearly false.

Paul wrote an autobiography:

Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft



It's a good read.

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.

It's an interesting thought experiment with Allen, because he provided the unrelenting prompting to start Microsoft. As you know from the book (and Gates has confirmed this numerous times), he urged Gates repeatedly that they should start a company focused on software to capitalize on the burgeoning personal computing era. Finally convincing him when the famous January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics came out with the Altair 8800 on the cover.

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.

But as he also admits in the book, he would pursue anything and everything, but Bill Gates would temper his expectations and help direct energy in a productive direction; so, it's possible--or even likely, I think--that Paul Allen would have started one of the many, many computer companies that didn't succeed. i.e. a PC manufacturer with a million competitors.

Of course, it's also possible he would have been wildly successful as an early entrant. Who can say?

When I was a kid, programmers - the elders, those whose lives and achievements had been described in all my introductory books - seemed to be immortal, because all these people who changed the world and created the wonderful universe of computers and software - they were all alive then (at least those I knew and cared about). That time is long gone now... and we are no longer immortal. We have lost so many of our kind. And today, we have lost yet another titan. R.I.P. Paul Allen. The world will remember you. And the kids of tomorrow, and the day after that will still discover our wonderful world reading books mentioning and revering your name. Alas, in the past tense now. Goodbye.

It was weird discovering Lisp and seeing that the creators were still alive. It was weird learning C and seeing that the creators were still alive.

I fear there will be many more black bars in our future...

At least the ideas are immortal.

Nothing is immortal.

"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)

Only as long as there are warm bodies to hold them.

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment."

- Woody Allen

Great quote, creepy guy.

2 weeks ago: https://twitter.com/PaulGAllen/status/1046864324310982668

> 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 must admit that this news has shaken me quite a bit.

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.

I don't know if this will help, but when my uncle Scotty was diagnosed with NHL, he founded an online support group that's still going strong long after he passed away (from what I understand, he died of something else and the NHL was still in remission at the time, but I'm still not sure what he died of so I could be wrong). I hope you find some resources there that can help you


Much good luck tomorrow.

I was diagnosed in 2016 with NHL - just as you, have two children (4 and 10). I am in remission now. Treatments have improved a lot over the years. I would not read too much into survival stats you'll find online. Do keep yourself fit and stress-free as much as you can - exercise, avoid sugar, healthy food, etc. I cannot overstate how important cutting down on sugar is.

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

Wow can your condition go south that quickly?

My uncle went to the dentist complaining of bit of bleeding in his gums. The dentist immediately sent him to get blood tests done and the next day he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Three days later he passed away.

Like Arthur Kane, bass player for the New York Dolls. Goes to the hospital thinking he has the flu, is diagnosed with leukemia, 2 hours - HOURS - later, he dies.

i wonder how much effect the psychological shock has on the body.

you hear these types of stories more often than of ones where people die of cancer not knowing they had cancer

If you haven't seen the movie "New York Doll," about Kane's interesting life trajectory, I recommend it: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436629/

I caught that movie already started on a TV channel once and saw like the last third of it. I didn't know the band, and all the while I thought it was a parody similar to Spinal Tap. It wasn't until the ending that I realized everything was a true story.

Last time I went to the doctor with extreme flu like symptoms (Pretty sure I had pneumonia) the doctor treated me like I was wasting her time and actually ridiculed me. Hearing stuff like this stresses me the heck out.

This was the often praised UK NHS btw

I had a doctor be dismissive and rude for coming in with a huge crater blister (from climbing) on my foot that had become infected, hot to the touch, and too painful for me to walk. This was in America, and I had good health insurance. As crappy as the Tories are making the NHS, it's still better than what we have.

I got to my (Dutch) doctor for far smaller things than these. Really trivial stuff. But I go because I'm not sure what it is and I prefer to be on the safe side. I'm always taken seriously, even when it's nothing.

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.

I think I'd change doctors if I were you.

To be fair, people having unhealthy lifestyle - especially those drinking are feeling terrible all the time - may just think this is how healthy person should feel and miss any symptoms of the potential disease.

By the time you notice the symptoms, in a serious way, you're unfortunately already as good as gone. :(

How do you find out you have it if it is asymptomatic? Should we be getting blood tests for leukemia right along? Or is it too rare to consider...?

Similar thing happened to my father. He was flossing and his gums wouldn’t stop bleeding. Long story short he went to the hospital and was intubated due to breathing difficulties.

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.

Absolutely. A month ago my step father was given 6-12 months. 11 days ago he passed away.

Good lord I'm sorry for your loss.

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.

I'm sorry for your loss.

A friend of mine lost his partner like that. It was a complication caused by the medication he was prescribed to treat the lymphoma.

My parents went hiking/camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Dad was having trouble swallowing. On returning, they went to the doctor and he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He seemed the picture of health. In 5 weeks he died.

Sorry for your loss.

There are some complications of cancer that cause rapid deterioration. The reason why this happens to some people and not others is not well understood. One of the more common rapidly fatal complications is disseminated intravascular coagulation, where the cancer stimulates widespread blood clotting that consumes all the normal clotting factors and results in bleeding which can easily be fatal.

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.

My grandmother's condition also was stable for a long time before warning signs started showing and she had to go back in for treatments. Her condition deteriorated within the span of 2 or so weeks before passing away.

Cancer sucks.

Happened to an uncle of mine at a similar age (a little younger). He had a few months at most from the first symptom. Really tragic

DLBCL is a very aggressive disease with a 5-year survival of ~60%. he was a relapse case from 2009. I'd say he took great care of his condition to have extended his survival to almost 10 years.

"Recently" can mean anything from now or months. It could be he only went public much later when the full details and scope of the disease came out - no use fearmongering at the first sign of trouble when the doctors haven't had time to assess prognosis.

It depends on a lot of things, his age will have been a factor in a poorer prognosis - generally if you get it > 60 (or it recurs) it's not great: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkin-lymphoma/detection...

Yes, a neighbor seemed perfectly fine, found out he had cancer and was dead less than a week later. He was in his mid-40s.

Some cancers are slow, some are fast. My mother died a few weeks after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is always a fast killer. I'm glad we got to do some things together as a family in those last few weeks.

Two weeks is the questionable speed record in my family. From 'hm, why do I almost black out when I sneeze or cough' to funeral.

non-Hodgkin's isn't typically that rapidly fatal, unlike other types of cancer. my guess is some sort of complication from treatment

Wow, that was pretty unexpected and sad news. I hope Stratolaunch soars soon.

My god, that’s such a short amount of time.

seem like poor choice of doctors when they are optimistic about someone dying two weeks later

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

I wonder if he would have been better off not being treated. The treatment can be pretty nasty.

what!? no! DLBCL is treatable. 30% of patients recover 100%. he recovered once from the disease.

For nine years of extra life, it sounds like a pretty good trade.

> Just now: https://twitter.com/PaulGAllen/status/1051958128885940226

If my death is noteworthy, I really hope I'm not eulogized with a bunch of animated gifs of sad faces.

For whatever reason, I always remember him for the Allen Telescope Array: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Telescope_Array

Not many are willing to donate that much into funding a project whose chance of success is small, but whose success would change everything.

A worthy, pioneering investment.

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.

Paul Allen on Gates, Microsoft (CBS 60 minutes)


From Australia

> The uploader has not made this video available in your country.

Does anyone have a link that is viewable outside the US?

Odd - I'm not in the US and I can view it. Here's a link for you: https://openload.co/f/FFCGebcsLxY/Paul_Allen_on_Gates%2C_Mic...

The outtakes from this are also worth watching (60 minutes "overtime" segment, but I no longer find it on their site). In one of my favorite moments, Stahl approaches a model of Allen's yacht and says, "So this is the Octopus...". Allen corrects her, "It's a model of the Octopus..."

Great piece, needs about 100 upvotes.

The world is a better place because the Allen Institutes exist. A worthy legacy, and a worthy way to spend one's riches.

Paul was among the top philanthropists in America, and has contributed so much to society. Truly a sad day

Incredibly sad day. The Allen Institute for Brain Science, for one example, is a gem of potential for humanity.

I wonder why nobody mentioned Interval Research[1] several people around the Smalltalk/Squeak scene worked there.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_Research_Corporation

I worked there for a while around 2000, after Interval was drastically downsized. Among other things they'd been working on a prototype "web tablet", ten years before the iPad. They did some good work there.

Really sad to hear this. He was one of the early financial supporters of Scaled Composites in their successful bid for the X-Prize, as well as a great supporter of the Allen Telescope Array for both astrophysics and SETI applications. Always had respect for Paul Allen.

This is so sad. I met him once when my company was doing some work for Vulcan and I was impressed that his manner was so understated but SHARP, he just "got" things very quickly.

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)


The heroes of the masses are often those in the spotlight.

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.

Outside of his work at Microsoft, I was mainly aware of him through his ownership of the Seattle Sounders in MLS. I live in the UK, where we have world-class football teams aplenty, but I think the Sounders were the first team in MLS that I saw that had the ownership and the facilities to be taken seriously in any league around the world. It's a shame CNBC missed his ownership of that team, because he's done as great a job with them as he had done with the Seahawks.

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'm glad you mentioned the Sounders, because nobody else has.

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.

Paul Allen has died. It's sad. I remember him from the very early days when the Altair was new and Microsoft BASIC was the language of choice and the People's Computer Company was publishing computer games. Paul exuded a quiet confidence in those days punctuated by droll humor. Better, he put his money where his imagination went and has left the world a better place. For greybeards, the Living Computer Museum is a joy to behold.

I met Allen down at Scaled Composites. He wanted to shoot people into space for fun, which I totally respect. World needs more like him, not fewer. RIP.

Paul definitely put a pretty big dent in the personal computer universe. And I really love the Living Computer Museum.

One of the first people to sign on to the Giving Pledge. Worth 20 billion according to wiki. Owns the Seattle Seahawks and the Trailblazers. Will these be sold off? Will be a true test of the Pledge.

I'm not much of a football fan, but I would really love it if the Seahawks were owned by a charity. It would make rooting for the home team much more meaningful!

NFL rules require that an NFL team have a majority owner (with Green Bay grandfathered as an exception).

It will likely have to be sold.

Could it be a Corp or an NGO ? Or does it have to be a natural person?

"What we did was unprecedented. But what is less well understood is that we had no choice." -Idea Man

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!


He's done a ton for Seattle. A few of my favorite less known things he contributed are the Living Computer Museum and Flying Heritage Collection.

May he rest in peace.

Paul Allen did a wonderful job restoring old aircraft and creating a flying museum. https://flyingheritage.org/

Paul Allen did enough good for hundreds of lifetimes in one. Allen's skills helped create Microsoft/Windows and allowed him to attain wealth which he also used for good reasons, funding brain, medical research and history as well as fun and entertainment. Allen is the type of person you want people, and especially wealthy, to be, supporting good efforts and being a force for good in humanity.

Interesting to see the many initial attempts to edit Allen's Wikipedia page were reverted as possible vandalism.


Adding a death date on the page on a well-known individual without any source is the easiest way to get quickly reverted.

As it should be.

Indeed though if a bunch of different users are doing it, you might want to allow it with a citation needed marker. I've been to so many articles with a "citation needed" marker for years, but surely it would not be too complex for someone to find a source.

Actually, that's not the purpose of [citation needed]. Adding a death date without a reference is very close to violation of [[WP:BIO]]. When I created [citation needed], I didn't envision it to be used for just adding any old data or information into articles, especially this sort of thing.

Sometimes I wonder what the tech industry could achieve if all companies agreed to donate 1% of resources to find a cure for cancer. I know that derived advances in tech (ML/Data Science, etc) have an impact but… is it really enough? We could do sooo much more for contributing to eradicate this disease.

RIP Paul Allen.

Whenever I see sad news like this, that a great person dies too early, it reminds me that life is too precious and I am lucky to have more time to do something meaningful. Take care of your body and do something that really matters. RIP

As a kid who grew up outside of the tech scene but in Washington State, Allen had a big impact on the wider community through his philanthropy and his love of sports, he was well liked everywhere.

What!!??? But he didn't get to go into space yet :-(

I don't know if there's an HN policy re: plugging charities, but speaking of lymphoma, last I heard this one is legit: http://lls.org

I never met him, but he definitely had a big impact on my life. Like so many I was first exposed to computer programming through Microsoft BASIC. These days I make a living working as an engineer at one of his philanthropies. But what I will maybe remember most is a weekly invitation he extended to come to his pool, where I have helped teach my wife to swim in a relaxing environment. His family and friends I am sure will be sad, but his impact lives on today.

Wow, so disappointing that his wealth didn't help him this time. Was hopeful that one of these experimental treatments we keep on hearing about would prove fruitful.

...helped him 9 years ago. But cancer came back.

You would think a person with 20 billion net worth would fund a couple hundred million a year net of institutes researching his particular disease, 'just in case'.

I have been working with him and his team at Vulcan on a project. I met him once and he was super cool and deeply interesting within a few minutes of talking with him. He had a way at taking the idea to the next level and not getting bogged down in why it won't work. Vision and drive. His team at Vulcan were all smart, creative and driven. I would work with them on anything. It is a big shock and bummer to hear about him passing.

Simply reading the wonderful comments you guys makes me a bit teary. This is what marks a great human being, someone who is remembered by the work they have done.

A titan. Very sad.

Fuck cancer.

I read his book Idea Man, a few years back. I still remember the parts where he travelled the world with his family. Beautiful journey. Most books of people so successful are too inclined towards their work or general advice. It was refreshing to read about somebody you could relate to just like Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. That they had lives outside of their work and went through worse days than most of us will ever face. And yet, he made a difference in the world he lived.

That is a reminder - no matter how rich you are, you have exactly the same hours in the day as the guy sleeping under the bridge.

Godspeed Good Sir. Thank you for all of your contributions that moved us as a Society forward. You will be missed!

I recently had the opportunity to intern with Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle. Paul Allen was an individual whom the general public in Seattle spoke highly of in terms of his goodwill, magnanimity and philanthropy to the people of Seattle and the US.

Incredibly tragic. He seemed like a very good man, and most certainly a titan of our industry.


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.

One of my heroes. You'll be missed! Can we get a cure for cancer?!

He always amazed me because he never gave up even when he had cancer. He kept on going and that took a lot of guts.

Steve Jobs was that way when he had cancer, kept on going until he passed on.

Wow, so sad. Like Jobs, he dying young is a loss to humanity.

What? Loss to humanity? Sorry but he was no Steve Jobs or even close. He exited Microsoft in 1982 and essentially spent money that he made off of Microsoft (to do some good things let's say if you forget the patent trolling). Not minimizing what he did that was positive but don't compare it to Steve who actually did 'change the world' (no Jobs fanboy but need to point out what he did was way more than Paul Allen).

Separately that OS that made Microsoft as everyone knows they bought from another company.

What a time to get pedantic.

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.


What an incredible loss on so many levels. 65 is young but look at everything he did and his contributions speak for themselves. R.I.P. Paul and Godspeed

To think he was told he was going to die so many years go, yet it still never stopped him from having ambitions as large as we have come to realize today.

RIP man. Thanks for all the good you did in the world.

This sucks.

Too young.

Can you imagine if we could have another ~30 years of Allen? Me neither. I really hate cancer. RIP space guy.

This is so sad. RIP Paul Allen. He did so much for he world. Just yesterday I was talking about his work.

Sad. His autobiography, a fantastic read, gave me great perspective on business and parenting.

Sad day. RIP Paul Allen. His legacy and contributions will have a lasting impact forever.

One more amongst 'Pirates of Silicon Valley' passed away. RIP Paul Allen. :(

So Sad. You will be missed Paul. Thank you for all your hard work in computers.

Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now! RIP Paul, too soon

Life is transient, death is instant. Farewell, Paul Allen.

Whatever you think of MSFT at x time, Paul Allen was certainly a genius. 65...and worth untold billions. But then, maybe, he reached 65 because of better treatment the first time. RIP.

meta: what is the meaning of this post getting 2724 points (as of this writing)? just a mechanism to bring it to first page?

Take a look at the top posts of all time:


I'm sure most of us were envious of his life, but almost no one would trade places with him today. It goes to show that health really is more valuable than money.

Here's the thing... One rich-person-year is typically equal to 4 common-person-year. Why? Rich people (defined here as folks with net worth of $100M+) can spend all of the time in things they desire. They can outsource almost all of the chores like cleaning house or doing taxes or laundry or cooking leaving more free time besides not having to do 8-hour jobs. Their transportation and commute is frictionless and doesn't penalise their effective available lifespan. They have approximately 13 hours available in each day to acquire desired experiences while a common person has only 3 hours. Things are actually bit more worse for a common person because the available experiences for them is far more limited. They can't fly out to Paris in personal jet, have dinner in 3 star michelin restaurant and fly back while taking a nap in cushy bed. In other words, a rich person typically gets to have 4X experiences in same period of time than a common person. In other words, if human common-man life span was 60 years, the effective life span of a rich person is approximately 240 years.

What about all the studies (not that I've read them, so correct me if I'm wrong, I just hear them referenced all the time) that says once you have the minimum money needed to live comfortable, more money doesn't necessarily increase happiness?

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.

What a weird thing to say. Everyone will die. It makes no sense to point out that no one would want to trade places with a dying or dead person. Of course not. Meaningfulness of life is more valuable than length of life.

Maybe he had a partner or someone as in that 60 minute interview they portray him as lonely and longing for the one.

He had to have someone....

Very Sad. Paul Allen, you will be missed.


^ "We (almost) have BASIC" Allen calls MITS


Sad day, he was one of the first to recognize the importance of neuroscience and to fund it.

This is of course completely untrue. Neuroscience has been major branch of science for thousands of years, and funded pretty much constantly in human memory.


Rest in peace

So sad to hear this, rest in peace, you did well


:-( RIP


Much too early. RIP Paul Allen.

RIP Paul Allen


I am guessing that most people here have apparently forgotten about the patent troll aspect of Paul Allen:


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):


(Shrug) He did a lot of good things and a few bad things, like most of us. Because he was extremely wealthy, though, the "lot of good things" that he did amounted to a significant boon to humanity. It's a very safe bet that anyone who lives in the Seattle area has benefited from his philanthropy in one respect or another, probably several.

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.

Most comments here seem to be remembering him for his philanthropy and contributions to science and humanity, rather than for being a co-founder of Microsoft.

It's an interesting contrast to the thread from 7 years ago about the death of Steve Jobs [1]. 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.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3078107

phillantropy is a marketing ploy by rich people

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

Allen led an incredibly fortunate life and undertook many actions which made life worse for others -- as illustrated by this patent trolling history. While he's a fellow human being and we're all united by the certainty of death, canonizing him is not his divine right; revisiting the sordid aspects of his life is worthwhile reflection and will not even the ledger, not even close. Thank you.

So, what's the name of your hero? I guarantee I can dig up some less-than-noble aspect about them, or cast a past action in negative light. People are pretty complicated, multi-faceted creatures. We're allowed to be grateful for their positive contributions even though we're all teeming with flaws.

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.

That Allen wielded such incredible power and influence was not due to him being exponentially more worthy than others, but due to a winner-take-all economic system which rewards marginal advantage combined with good fortune with exponential returns.

> 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'm genuinely interested in how you think Paul Allen's untimely death should be discussed on HN. Do you think he's getting too much respect, with the HN black bar and the 1300+ upvotes? How much should his post-Microsoft accomplishments be negated enough by Microsoft's bad deeds?

> I'm genuinely interested in how you think Paul Allen's untimely death should be discussed on HN.

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.

That's a fair reply, and I don't necessarily disagree with you (I don't have a strong opinion or much knowledge about Paul Allen in general). However, I think it's a given that people reflexively frown upon speaking ill of the recently (non-criminal) dead. Part of that may be irrational sentiment, but part of it -- IMHO -- is because after a grace period, society is generally OK with criticizing the dead into perpetuity. For example, the world (and HN) seemed nearly unanimous in grieving Steve Jobs in the days/weeks after his untimely death. But I don't think it's at all unpopular nowadays to talk about what a showboating insensitive asshole he is said to have been (e.g. Lisa Jobs's recent memoir).

> (e.g. Lisa Jobs's recent memoir)

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.

I down voted you because I believe this post in is incredibly poor taste. Nobody is perfect and calling out perceived flaws is a pretty shitty thing to do right when someone dies. Especially true given that several people who have posted here knew the guy on a personal level.

Why? Because automatic lionization of people is the proper way?

Wouldn't it be incredible if someone died and we could finally speak about them honestly?

Well... it would be but that's not what we do. In part because people know that one day they too will pass and they hope people will remember them kindly and forgive them their trespasses. Think of it as a 'pay it forward' mechanism.

"Nothing but good about the dead".

fuck cancer

Man, if ever it were black bar time...

One of the early giants of my teens.

For sure it's a black bar time.

Edit: and it's up.

As a programmer, one of the coolest places I've been is the living computer museum in Seattle. I'm reading "idea man" right now. This guy was quite the force. It's a big loss!!

I was really impressed with the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum. It is quite a well put together display. Allen contributed heavily to it; I think that it grew out of his personal collection.

Was never a fan of allen or microsoft as I felt that Microsoft's monopoly has held back computing by a generation, but it's still sad to see cancer finally get this guy after a lifetime of struggle. He left microsoft because of cancer in the 80s. Hopefully he left much of his wealth for cancer research and lots of good can come from that.

In the 90s, yes. But in the early 80s when there were dozens of different computer architectures competing, the rise to dominance of MS-DOS brought about the standardization of computer hardware on a single platform.

That, in turn, led to lower prices as hardware was commoditized, and to accessibility for millions worldwide who could never before buy a computer.

So illegal practices are okay as long as they result in lower prices for the consumer?

Actually, this reasoning checks out with current interpretations of monopoly law. Carry on.

The way I remember it, IBM PC's (and clones thereof) were quite expensive compared to many existing home computers.

Before Windows (technically 3.1, the breakthrough mainstream version), getting your computer to print something to a printer required the software (e.g. WordPerfect) to handle the printer driver itself.

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...

Which brings us to Microsoft Visual Basic. The JavaScript of its time. Before VB 4, you had to know and understand Charles Petzold’s WinAPI books to make a Windows app. Arguably, some apps were poorly designed or implemented but it bulldozed the way to wide usage of applications for business.

Does everyone know the story about when he told Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer he had cancer back in the early days?


I'm not sure what you're valuing by reposting versions of this comment in multiple places in this thread, but it seems like you think he should have given more money to science.

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."

Died Worth $20b


We've banned this account. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.



Oh how adorable.

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.

a little too soon, imo


It's shocking to me that even now, hours after the announcement, Microsoft.com is completely bereft of mentioning the news. I know Paul Allen's impact at MS isn't akin to Bill Gates in popular culture, but it seems soulless to make no effort whatsoever.

I think it depends on your location. I didn't see anything in Singapore till I switched to the US version of the website.

There's a large banner of him there now.

Press "f" to pay respect.

For those confused by this subthread (like I was): https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/press-f-to-pay-respects


That helped but I don't see the relation to Paul Allen.

There isn't one.

Not appropriate.

Why not? It's for sure a meme, but it's used sincerely in many places as well. Let's all mourn in our own ways, and not judge others for mourning in theirs.

In case you really can’t see why: because it’s not actually respectful. It’s a dumb meme, it has nothing to do with Paul Allen, and– despite what you might think– a lot of people won’t know what it means.

Humor can be a powerful tool for coping with grief, but something like this reads as glib and disrespectful in a forum that holds itself to a higher standard of discourse than the broader internet.

At what point are we no longer celebrating a life well lived?

Paul Allen loved computing, and funded a living computing museum, along with with another museum dedicated to to pop culture. I wouldn't presume to know how he'd feel about a meme based tribute, but I sure as heck wouldn't feel the need to spit on one for not meeting my own criteria for respectfulness or sincerity.

RIP. Paul Allen - one smart cookie, who lived more than most of us ever will.

How is this any less glib than saying "Rip Paul Allen"?

It doesn't detract from his greatness but I didn't like his hypocrisy in giving millions to gun control initiatives while personally owning a Panzer tank, SCUD missile launcher, MiG fighter jet, etc.

That's silly. None of those things were in working (fighting) condition. You can be a war historian and think that private ownership of war implements is a bad idea.

His tanks are definitely capable of shooting at least blank rounds. They do it weekly at the museum. I would not be surprised if they can shoot the actual live munition without issues if you can get hands on it.

As expected as there's no federal law against owning a fully-operable tank or fighter jet. Well the tank howitzer may need to be registered as a destructive device with $200 tax stamp in accordance with the National Firearms Act due to the bore width.

It's also legal to equip them with machine guns, as long as the gun's transferable under the Hughes Amendment. An M2 Browning would set one back $20K or so.[1] But a guy like Paul Allen could splurge and get a GE M134 chain gun for $500K.[2]

One could also equip them with explosive ordnance as long as each piece of ordnance is registered as a destructive device (along with $200 tax stamp).

These are minor obstacles to the wealthy. Gun control is for the poor.

[1]: https://www.morphyauctions.com/jamesdjulia/item/lot-1009-m2-...

[2]: https://imgur.com/gallery/2u9YI

When was the last time there was a school shooting using a Panzer tank or a MiG fighter?

I can't see the pragmatism in demanding equivalence of regulation.

You can support gun control without supporting total suppression; even Japan, with some of the world’s strictest gun control laws, still lets you buy one if you qualify.

And to qualify, you usually have to be extremely rich and well-connected, thus enforcing the idea that there are two sets of laws - one for hoi polloi and one for the exalted elite. I think it's better when there's just one, and your rights do not depend on who you know.

That's just straight-up wrong. Legal ownership of a gun in Japan requires an extreme amount of bureaucracy, but it's entirely possible and most legal gun owners in Japan are (non-rich, non-well-connected) farmers.


OP may very well be referring to California. There are some districts where concealed carry permits are "may issue" -- issued at the discretion of an authority like a sheriff -- as opposed to "shall issue" -- mandatory issuing if you meet the legal obligations / restrictions. In practice, this results in celebrities and the well-connected getting permits, and "nobody" citizens with clean records and legitimate personal safety concerns being denied permits.

I don't know how it works in Japan, but I do know how it works in some places in e.g. California.

You are the second person in this thread who has claimed that the Japanese system is elitist. When I looked and replies to the other person I couldn't find any evidence of this, so I'm interested where you got this idea.

Here's a story on how to buy a gun in Japan[1]. The only fee is $60 for the gun license course, so I don't see where the argument about having to be rich is coming from.

[1] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-per...

Japan doesn't have low gun violence because of strict laws, it's because culturally there is simply no desire to own guns (per-capita ownership rate is 0.3, near the bottom of all countries[1]), combined with an overall low violent crime rate due to their high trust, homogeneous society.

There's simply no comparison to the USA where firearms are a deep part of our history and culture, and where our right to bear arms is recognized right in the Constitution. That's reflected in our per-capita ownership rate.

If you look just at the laws, Venezuela has even stricter gun control laws than Japan (complete private ownership ban) yet it has the highest gun homicide rate on the planet.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estimated_number_of_civilian_g...

This is a really bad example, specifically wrt Paul Allen. Many of those arguing against him dislike the idea of having two classes of folks, the elite that can own weapons, and plain folks. Japan is the definition of this system...

I'm not familiar with the Japanese system, but according to the library of congress report[1]:

According to gun-shop websites, although obtaining a gun-possession permit the first time is cumbersome, it is not difficult if one follows the requisite steps

Reading through the requirements the only thing which seems "elitist" is (maybe) that undischarged bankrupts can't own a gun. The rules seem pretty reasonable and sensible to me.

I'm interested why you think this is about two classes?

[1] www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/japan.php

This is simply ignorant. Most such "weapons systems" will be disabled before purchase , since they count as destructive devices. In some cases it is possible to own such items that are still capable of firing live ammunition but this requires paying a fee and going through an extensive FBI background check. This process has been shown to reduce crimes committed using such devices to a virtually non-existent level. Additionally, you simply cannot go out and buy SCUD missiles, tank ammunition, or air to air missiles as a civilian.

This is "gun control", very tightly regulated weapons which are expensive to obtain and require hopping through several regulatory hoops. It is not hypocrisy in the least to be willing to abide by that level of gun control for those weapons (even assuming he did, I have no knowledge that any of Allen's stuff had functioning weapons) and desire the process of obtaining small arms be made slightly more stringent as well.

If someone spends millions to lobby for tighter aviation safety rules, but owns a Cessna, does that make them a hypocrite in your eyes?

Let's not get into the weeds of nitpicking bad analogies. Guns are a Constitutional right. Lobbying to make it harder for the poors to exercise that right while being heavily armed yourself is not only hypocritical, but immoral. It's that simple for me.

Well, looks like you could have said that you consider any gun control advocates as hypocrites, then. (Shrug)

Any gun control advocate who is already armed to the teeth, yes. That's the definition of pulling the ladder up behind yourself.

Get the hell out of here bud.

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