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Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft Paperback – October 30, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
- 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.Read more ›
I always approach autobiographies with trepidation - many are either boring, shallow attempts at whitewashing, or obnoxious rants. Fortunately, this autobiography is not among those.
As an Amiga fan turned Linux fan, I have some serious issues with Microsoft and its behavior. However, as I know a little bit about Allen and had been considerably impressed by a brief news clip of him playing Hendrix riffs, I was willing to suspend my prejudice and see what he had to say about himself. (Anyone who loves Hendrix that much deserves a serious hearing, IMHO.)
The book begins with some facts and stories about Allen's childhood and his meeting Bill Gates at a private school in the Seattle area. Intermixed with stories of his personal introduction to technology and computer programming, Allen also treats us to some history of the personal computer revolution and the march of technology in the last four decades. Being roughly the same age as Allen, his stories about the development of technology and music resonate very strongly with me, and lend that much more of an air of honesty to the book, at least for me.
He takes us through the ups and downs of his friendship and partnership with Gates, the ups and downs of Microsoft and his post-Microsoft business ventures, and his very personal battles with cancer and the loss of his father. He is not excessively detailed, nor overly shallow in his narrative, but manages a good balance between the two. Since this is an autobiography, to delve more deeply into social, political or technological issues would not be appropriate.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed reading Paul Allen's book Idea Man, very interesting and a quick read.Published 14 minutes ago by Amazon Customer
Seems like a pretty level-headed presentation of a great story.Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
Paul Allen did his share of the work in building Microsoft, but Bill Gates got more than his share of the credit. Great insider perspective.Published 3 days ago by Terry Mullins
Now here is a nerd after my own heart..and I use that term lovingly. Mr. Allen has been quite the inspiration, and we have similar roots (I've been an Intel employee for many... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lisa Cass
The memoir of Paul Allen is interesting. Not necessarily historic or even well researched. It has quite a bit of repetition. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mike Cataldo
The amazing life story of one of America's greatest individuals. Paul G. Allen's honest and warm memoir is a wonderful look at the way his ideas led to the rise of the digital... Read morePublished 3 months ago by merlin david