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Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft [Kindle Edition]

Paul Allen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Book Description

By his early thirties, Paul Allen was a world-famous billionaire-and that was just the beginning.



In 2007 and 2008, Time named Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft, one of the hundred most influential people in the world. Since he made his fortune, his impact has been felt in science, technology, business, medicine, sports, music, and philanthropy. His passion, curiosity, and intellectual rigor-combined with the resources to launch and support new initiatives-have literally changed the world.



In 2009 Allen discovered that he had lymphoma, lending urgency to his desire to share his story for the first time. In this long-awaited memoir, Allen explains how he has solved problems, what he's learned from his many endeavors-both the triumphs and the failures-and his compelling vision for the future. He reflects candidly on an extraordinary life.



The book also features previously untold stories about everything from the true origins of Microsoft to Allen's role in the dawn of private space travel (with SpaceShipOne) and in discoveries at the frontiers of brain science. With honesty, humor, and insight, Allen tells the story of a life of ideas made real.



Editorial Reviews

Review

The virtual world he imagined is now as real as concrete ... the very fabric of a twenty-first century that he and a tiny club of others literally invented. Shy, humble, brilliant ... Paul Allen's intellect and generosity of spirit are there on every page. Bono Paul's natural curiosity will always guide him into uncharted waters. Whether it's a newfangled device called the personal computer; exploring the bottom of the sea or deep space; music, movies, and museums; or perhaps his most significant adventure so far-the human brain-two things are certain: It won't be the same afterward, and it will be an extraordinary journey. Peter Gabriel Paul is a true adventurer in every sense of the word and, as a friend, he is both loyal and generous of spirit. His ideas have helped shape the world we live in, and witnessing the way his mind works is like watching a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo: you have no idea how he does it, but it blows your mind. Dave Stewart This son of Oklahoma, by way of Seattle, electrocuted a classmate, soldered his skin, gassed the family pet, purposely crashed systems, dove in Dumpsters for coffee-stained printouts, and went on to create the engine that changed the world. Dan Ackroyd

Review

The virtual world he imagined is now as real as concrete ... the very fabric of a twenty-first century that he and a tiny club of others literally invented. Shy, humble, brilliant ... Paul Allen's intellect and generosity of spirit are there on every page. Bono Paul's natural curiosity will always guide him into uncharted waters. Whether it's a newfangled device called the personal computer; exploring the bottom of the sea or deep space; music, movies, and museums; or perhaps his most significant adventure so far-the human brain-two things are certain: It won't be the same afterward, and it will be an extraordinary journey. Peter Gabriel Paul is a true adventurer in every sense of the word and, as a friend, he is both loyal and generous of spirit. His ideas have helped shape the world we live in, and witnessing the way his mind works is like watching a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo: you have no idea how he does it, but it blows your mind. Dave Stewart This son of Oklahoma, by way of Seattle, electrocuted a classmate, soldered his skin, gassed the family pet, purposely crashed systems, dove in Dumpsters for coffee-stained printouts, and went on to create the engine that changed the world. Dan Ackroyd

Product Details

  • File Size: 3980 KB
  • Print Length: 350 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00C022Z2W
  • Publisher: Penguin (April 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Y4YU6I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,911 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading; first half better than 2nd half. April 19, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book details Paul Allen's story on the beginning of Microsoft and his relationship with Bill Gates. The 2nd half of the book deals with his sport teams (TrailBlazers and Seahawks), space planes, investments, life as a wealthy mogul, and recent events.

Contrary to the press reports, this book draws a neutral portrait of Bill Gates. He is both highly praised and criticized. The book truly delivers an unvarnished view of Bill Gates and the beginnings of Microsoft. If you are into tech-history, this book should not be missed.

I think the title "Idea Man" is spot-on. Paul is the founding Visionary of Microsoft. He had the world-changing ideas and inspirations. But it was mostly Bill Gates who sorted them out and drove Paul Allen and rest of Microsoft's employees to execute those ideas into a reality. It is important to note that game changing ideas at Microsoft were somewhat lacking after Paul Allen left Microsoft. Instead, Microsoft became more like Bill Gates, an entity that is ruthless, sucessful, and technically brilliant. Yet, Microsoft lacked a vision and played mostly catchup to other visionary companies and ideas (Netscape, Apple, smartPhones, tablets, game consoles etc). I am convinced that Microsoft may have been a different and a more visionary company if Paul Allen had stayed.

I have also read the two books written by Bill Gates. In both books, Bill Gates gives strong endorsement and credit to Paul Allen for the co-founding of Microsoft. The two men have known each other for over 40 years and grew up together. The bond between the two seems very deep.

Pros:
1)This book is written in an extremely fluid style. I am not sure if Paul hired a ghostwriter, but if the book was mostly first-hand written, then I am impressed.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Paul Allen is a strange renaissance-man type nerd, and he has a mostly interesting tale to tell. Here were the ups and downs of his tale to me:

- The first half of the book is more engaging than the second
The book is really about three different phases of his life. The first two phases cover the first half of the book. In the first phase is his childhood, discovery of his passion for computers and forming a friendship with Gates through a common love of computer programming. The second phase is the creation of Microsoft and subsequent struggles with Bill as the company grows.

Paul left MS before it went public, and in a few short years his stock options turned him into a multi-billionaire. Adrift without a purpose and lots of money, the second half of the book covers his investments into mostly unprofitable ventures as he explores whatever strikes his fancy. He likes basketball, so he buys a basketball team. He still wants to make a mark as a solo visionary in technology, so he starts a technology think tank. He's fascinated by space so he funds the first commercial space flight. He likes movies so he gets involved in the creation of DreamWorks... and well, a whole lot of other things, as well. Some of these are more interesting than others. Some of them venture into total nerdy detail which one will only find fascinating if they're equally obsessed with the topic.

2. Paul's a good logical writer and doesn't hold back from sharing his (or others) flaws, but his logical approach tends to keep real feeling out of his story.
The most engaging parts are about his relationship with Bill. It is pretty much the only area where some much less analytical insights are provided.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you're into tech the first 30% is a must read May 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I recommend the first 30% of this book for anyone in the tech field who wants an insider's view of the guts of starting a software business in the early days. There is some candid insight into Gates' and Allen's personalities and in my perspective, sheds some light on why some things about Silicon Valley culture are the way they are--some of the traditions, norms, mores, and such were clearly birthed at Microsoft (and to a lesser degree Xerox Parc and HP) and seeded to all those companies that followed. Beyond that, with some exceptions (the discussion on winning the X Prize, for example), I felt the book devolved into a cross between "I'm a billionaire and still don't feel fulfilled" and "then, I played guitar with Mick Jagger." I stopped about 80% of the way through and have no desire to finish.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read August 8, 2011
Format:Hardcover
I liked this book from beginning to end. I thought what he wrote about Gates was fair and nothing as bad as what some of the press on the book made it out to be. Sounded like a friend, co-worker relationship to me. What I found really interesting was he tells what he does with his money in life. I found it more fascinating to read that and to see how much more rounded he is than anyone would think. I always wonder what do the truly wealthy do and he tells how he lost and how he has made his money. I think the most interesting thing he is into is the medical research. Seems like he would be a great guy to work for. Couldnt put the book down.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A memoir with passion and almost no resentment June 2, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It has been a real pleasure to read Paul Allen's "Idea Man" - a pleasure both intellectual and humane. In his life, Allen has indeed enjoyed a rare combination of circumstances that made possible an early journey in the world of PC software and personal computing. But his illness path has confronted him with the sense and the values of a superior human existence, no matter the opportunities in place.
The way he describes the glorious days pre-Microsoft (as well as the early years at new-founded company) is quite vivid: anyone can feel and imagine how he and Gates have lived those times.
On the other hand, I was touched by his effort to provide a fair and objective description of his old pal Bill, who has given him a good deal of friendship, camaraderie and complicity but also made him suffer a lot with his competitive attitude, his selfishness and his confrontational way regarding everyone else.
Thus Paul Allen gives us a rich set of glimpses about his splendid life without hiding his most felt sufferings, letting us share in a way those heroic times of his.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into Paul allen's life and times
I never knew much about him, and am glad to have read this book. It does give a good idea about how Microsoft got started and the "all-in" nature of startups. Read more
Published 5 days ago by W. Walker
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not bad
Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great autobiography
Published 1 month ago by Anthony J. Ethridge
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I don't know
Published 3 months ago by judson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, very well written
Excellent book, very well written, and Paul Allen is certainly a very interesting person. The first half of the book describes Paul Allen's childhood, meeting Bill Gates, and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jou-ching Sung
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective
Allen tells a personal and interesting story. It is clear that he is really interested by the idea of computers, that bill gates was the leading software developer, and that gates... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kyle Wilshusen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, one of the best reads of the past two years!
Published 3 months ago by David Huether
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting & informative story of this most quiet Microsoft
Very interesting & informative story of this most quiet Microsoft founder
Published 4 months ago by DON ROBERTSON
5.0 out of 5 stars A successful man for all reasons especially for mulit-billions of...
Paul Allen wrote an honest account of his life. The recollection of his childhood and teen years is well documented. Read more
Published 4 months ago by G. A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life inside Microsoft, but so much more!
One of my goals recently has been to read about the people I consider the four horsemen of tech of my generation: Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and of course Paul Allen. Read more
Published 5 months ago by C. Schwab
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