Did they forget he got a sweetheart deal based on his partner’s (Bill Gates) mother’s relationship with an IBM board member to write a piece-of-shit operating system, MS-DOS, that was foisted by Microsoft and IBM on millions of computer users who had to struggle with daily system crashes because it was infested with bugs?
Not to mention that Gates created an illegal monopoly (but he hired so many lawyers that the feds finally just gave up) to make sure all manufacturers had to install the operating system on their computers before they shipped out.
Not to mention Gates quashed application competitors by reverse engineering their code (Microsoft refused to sign nondisclosures) or buying them out.
So Allen made his billions – more than $26 – and was able to spend it the ways many profligates do: on energy-burning transportation machines, such as yachts and planes; on real estate; on sports teams; on a museum to house his personal collection of collectibles; and a few million to count the number of African elephants. Sure, he contributed millions to purchase wireless spectrum in Seattle and Portland, but he also funded the now extinct SETI project by Mount Shasta in northern California, which used large telescopes to track “alien” signals from presumedly habitable planets in outer space.
So Paul Allen was a programmer who lucked out in the software business. He made lots of money, thanks to the machinations and connections of his crafty business partner. He spent loads of money to Disneyfy Seattle, formerly a sleepy seaport awash with sailors, whore houses, and bars. Allen’s real estate investments have also transformed Seattle into a mini-Silicon Valley clone, home to Amazon and Intellectual Ventures, spawn of Microsoft millionaire Nathan Myrvold.
But I suppose that when a coder-made-accidental-billionaire dies at a relatively young age, the media will only recall how he made his money….not how it was squandered on trivial pursuits, although perhaps the elephants will benefit.