Gates and Allen met in the seventh grade and would go on to build a technology company pivotal to the computing revolution. “Even in high school, before most people knew what a personal computer was, Paul predicted that chips would get super-powerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry,” Gates wrote.
After they started and then folded their first business endeavor, Gates recounted the moment in 1974 when the two friends decided to launch Microsoft.
“One day [Allen] 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,” Gates wrote. “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.”
A Seattle native, Allen amassed his fortune through the technology company, but his interests were wide-ranging. Like Gates, he pledged a majority of his personal wealth to philanthropy. Allen is also remembered as a “driving force” by the sports world, as the owner of two major professional sports teams.
Allen, who had long owned the Portland Trail Blazers, was honored by the team Thursday before its season opener, according to ESPN. A single red rose and a ball cap sat on his courtside seat, and the public address announcer called him “the ultimate trail blazer” after summarizing his life’s achievements, ESPN reported.
Allen also owned the Seattle Seahawks. His purchase of the NFL franchise in 1996 was considered crucial to preventing it from moving to California. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement earlier this week that Allen “was the driving force behind keeping the NFL in the Pacific Northwest,” and praised his tireless work “to make the game safer and protect our players from unnecessary risk.”