Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975. In his memoir Idea Man, Allen writes about the personal computer revolution, the origin story of Microsoft, his relationship with Bill Gates, dealing with cancer, his successes, failures and lessons learned in the process of building multiple businesses.
They started Microsoft in 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. In April 2019, Microsoft reached the trillion-dollar market capitalization, becoming the third U.S. public company to be valued at over $1 trillion after Apple and Amazon. As of February 2022, Microsoft is the second most valuable company in the world with market capitalization of $2.2 trillion and employs 182,000+ individuals.
Here are some great quotable quotes from Idea Man by Paul Allen:
Early Days of Microsoft
- One time I asked Bill, “If everything went right, how big do you think our company could be?” He said, “I think we could get it up to thirty-five programmers.” That sounded really ambitious to me.
- If we’d been older or known better, Bill and I might have been put off by the task in front of us. But we were young and green enough to believe that we just might pull it off.
On Hacker Culture
- As author Steven Levy has noted, hacker culture was a meritocracy. Your status didn’t hinge on your age or what your father did for a living. All that counted was ingenuity and your hunger to learn more about coding.
Every neophyte needs a master.
- In my experience, each failure contains the seeds of your next success—if you are willing to learn from it.
Programming is like writing a novel
- At the beginning we outlined our plot, the conceptual phase of the coding. Then we took the big problem and carved it into its component chapters, from the hundreds of subroutines to their related data structures, before putting all the parts back together. If a line didn’t work, we’d re-edit our draft.
Phases of Invention
- There are two phases to any invention. The first is the moment of inspiration. The second is the execution, which is less exciting but more than challenging in its own right.
- AS I LOOK back at my life, I’d propose that my successes were the product of preparation and hard work.
From my youth, I’d never stopped thinking in the future tense.
On Idea Execution (BRAVO – the first WYSIWYG)
- It’s not that they didn’t know the answers. That’s normal. But they didn’t know the questions.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.