Paul Allen (b. 1953)
Paul Allen (b. 1953) image
Paul Allen attended Lakeside School in Seattle, where he was introduced to computing through the school’s timeshare computer. He was part of a small group who monopolized the Teletype room, where the computer terminal was located, and there met Bill Gates, who was two grades behind him. While other kids were writing BASIC versions of blackjack and Yahtzee, he was busy rewriting a BASIC compiler in assembly language.
Allen, Gates, and two other students, Ric Weiland and Kent Evans, formed the Lakeside Programming Group and made a number of business deals, at first trading their programming services for free computer access, but later actually getting paid. He and Gates also formed a company called Traf-O-Data to build and sell computerized machines to process highway traffic tapes.

After two years at Washington State University he dropped out to set up yet another business with Gates, who had just graduated from high school. Gates instead decided to go to Harvard, and Allen followed him east, where he got a job at Honeywell in Boston. It was there, in Cambridge, that he discovered the Altair computer on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics. Over the next few weeks he and Gates wrote a version of the BASIC language for the Altair, the first product of their new company, Micro-Soft.

print this

Related Artifacts & People

image of Altair 8800

Altair 8800

learn more »
image of Computer Notes

Computer Notes

learn more »
image of Ed Roberts (1941-2010)

Ed Roberts (1941-2010)

learn more »
Related Stories

“We have a BASIC”
Inspired by the cover of Popular Electronics, Paul Allen and Bill Gates wrote Altair BASIC, the first software for a home computer.
learn more »

Related Links

PDP Planet
PDP Planet is a portal into the Paul Allen collection of Digital Equipment Corporation mainframes and minicomputers.

Paul Allen's web site
Find out what Paul Allen is interested in currently.

Bill Gates Interview
Transcript of 1993 video oral history from the Smithsonian Institution.


STARTUP Gallery Map, click to view full map
Paul Allen (b. 1953) is discussed in the It Happened in Albuquerque section of the STARTUP Gallery. Click on the map to explore any section of the gallery.