Paul Allen, one of my oldest friends and the first business partner I ever had, died yesterday. I want to extend my condolences to his sister, Jody; his extended family; and his many friends and colleagues around the world.
I met Paul when I was in seventh grade, and it changed my life.
I looked up to him right away. He was two years ahead of me in school, really tall, and proved to be a genius with computers. (Later, he also had a very cool beard, which I could never pull off.) We started hanging out together, especially once the first computer arrived at our school. We spent just about all our free time messing around with any computer we could get our hands on.
Paul foresaw that computers would change the world. Even in high school, before any of us knew what a personal computer was, he was predicting that computer chips would get superpowerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry. That insight of his was the cornerstone of everything we did together.
In fact, Microsoft would never have happened without Paul. In December 1974, he and I were both living in the Boston area—he was working, and I was going to college. One day he came and got me, insisting that I rush over to a nearby newsstand with him. When we arrived, he showed me the cover of the January issue of Popular Electronics. It featured a new computer called the Altair 8800, which ran on a powerful new chip. Paul looked at me and said, “This is happening without us!” That moment marked the end of my college career and the beginning of our new company, Microsoft. It happened because of Paul.