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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should have been an absolutely compelling read and it isn't
There are a number of fascinating stories that Paul Allen could have told. He could write a whole book on the acquisition, development and delivery of MS/DOS to IBM and then to other PC makers. Paul Allen devotes only a couple of pages to this topic - indeed just enough to support his claim that it was his idea to use Tom Patterson's 86-DOS after Jack Sams, an IBM...
Published on 11 May 2011 by Paul

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fails to stick the course
It starts really well for two reasons, gripping background to the early history of Microsoft and written by an excellent ghost writer who can really make you turn pages. Sadly after Microsoft (approximately half the book) it turns down hill and all the things about ghost writing come to the surface, for example, on page 305 discussing his funding of Neuroscience:...
Published on 17 May 2011 by Dr Bob


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should have been an absolutely compelling read and it isn't, 11 May 2011
By 
Paul (Hertfordshire UK) - See all my reviews
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There are a number of fascinating stories that Paul Allen could have told. He could write a whole book on the acquisition, development and delivery of MS/DOS to IBM and then to other PC makers. Paul Allen devotes only a couple of pages to this topic - indeed just enough to support his claim that it was his idea to use Tom Patterson's 86-DOS after Jack Sams, an IBM employee suggested to Microsoft that they supply an OS. It seems that at the beginning, neither Sams, Gates nor Allen really appreciated the value of owning and controlling the operating system.

Allen also claims to be the idea man behind MS Windows having seen the original Xerox Star computer with its GUI bitmapped display at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. The development of MS Windows, the rivalry with Apple, the development of the MAC and then the MS Windows versions of Word and Excel would be another fascinating story. All we are told is that Allen was instrumental in the hiring of Charles Simonyi from Xerox - their expert in WYSIWYG word processor.

There is a great deal of detail about the 8 billion invested in Cable networks that Allen wrote off, but the reader is still left wondering how and why this all happened. Even for Allen $8B is quite a big chunk of cash.

I was originally going to give this book 3 stars, because it could, indeed should, have been an absolutely compelling read and it isn't. Nevertheless, Allen does relate snippets of the history of the Personal Computer Industry that are interesting enough to justify 5 stars at a pinch.

Note to Publisher: The table of contents in my edition says the index appears on page 347. There is no page 347 and there is no index which is a pity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lend me Ten Pounds and I'll Buy You a Drink, 18 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft (Kindle Edition)
Paul Allen. Nice bloke, really. Maybe a bit of an accidental billionaire, but it's hard to grudge him the cash. He pretty much changed the world, after all, even if he was, as he admits, merely standing and building on the shoulders of giants. Money isn't everything though, and this is another of those life stories where the music of Neil Sedaka plays in the background as a soundtrack: "I miss the hungry years, we never had a dime...."
I think you'll have to be a bit of a geek to be really gripped by the first half of this book as Allen and Gates struggle to code Microsoft to the top. The key watersheds in the history of the company are written about slightly dispassionately and you are given a flavour of the necessary ruthlessness that permeated the computer industry and obviously still does. Stuck for a good idea? Then go and steal one of your competitors'. (The current patent wars in technology are an indicator that copying is not a form of flattery.) Allen writes almost reluctantly, I felt, about his partner in crime, Bill Gates, and the picture painted isn't one that adds much warmth to one of the world's richest men. Allen, being the nice guy he seems to be, holds back about how he felt Gates stiffed him, dissed him and finally ignored him as Microsoft steamed towards world domination. The final assessment of Microsoft losing out to Apple, Google and the rest seem tinged with an element of glee. But it was Allen's baby too, so the affection is still there.
Halfway through the book and Allen is through with Microsoft, which somewhat surprised me. Was that it? Now as rich as Croesus, what should Allen do with his burgeoning cash pile? He likes basketball, so why not buy a team? And a football team. Build them a half billion dollar stadium on top, to play in. He could have become the ultimate sports mogul, but he's involved in every other project and distraction that comes his way. While Donald Trump wrote The Art of the Deal, Allen works hard on what seems to be the Fart of the Deal, and gamely recounts some of the exceedingly smelly and disastrous investments he made during the Internet years. One bad deal alone cost him $8 billion, while he admits in print that selling too quickly out of AOL cost him $40 billion. It must have been hard writing that sentence.
Allen lives in a different financial stratosphere to everyone except about a handful of individuals on the planet. He splurges cash everywhere. He sees his childhood cinema going to the dogs, so he just buys it and does it up. He liked Hendrix as a youth, so he basically buys everything from guitars to underpants that the man owned and then builds a museum to house them in. He builds a rocket to the moon. After a while, you really begin to think that Gates' philanthropy is an infinitely better deal. Eventually, and maybe inevitably, we get to his charitable work, but he skims over it really, in the same way he does with his battles with his health. The book leaves you with the feeling that Allen knows the clock is ticking and that he has so much to do. His wealth affords him boundless opportunities but, if you haven't got your health....
This was a very readable autobiography, a book of two halves maybe, but it always kept my interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 12 Jun 2012
By 
T. Marsh (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft (Kindle Edition)
I read this book last year and thought it was a really interesting account of his life.
Would defiantly recommend it as not only does it talk about his time at Microsoft it also talks about his life after, what he has invested in and what he does now with his wealth.

Interesting read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pathfinders in the early Computer Wilderness, 21 Sep 2011
By 
Those were the Days! A very interesting (and True) Piece of History. I have seen those Guys, heard them and worked and wrestled with their Products. One will never again experience the same thrill and enormous entrepreneurial tasks we then had to solve without Money (the Banks looked upon us as idiots the first Years). This Book simply describes how Demanding and Hard and Mad and sometimes Sad the Digital Morning looked like.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mix of the fascinating and indulgent, 26 Aug 2011
By 
David Bradshaw "hassleddad" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft (Kindle Edition)
Most people will probably read this book because they are interested in the early years of Microsoft, and that is certainly well covered in the book. It's a warts-and-all account which is not entirely flattering for Bill Gates. This section of the book was fascinating, and if you're involved in the IT industry you should probably buy and read the book just for this.

However, the book also documents Allen's time after Microsoft, when he has lived the billionaire's lifestyle - travelling to far-away places, buying a super-yacht and sports teams (pity he hasn't yet bought Man United off the Glaziers...), setting up a museum and playing guitar with the rock stars. But he's also also recovered twice from cancer, and he's contributed strongly to the human genome project. I nearly didn't bother with this section of the book, and I glad that I did because some of it is worthwhile and fascinating, though other parts are a little more than nauseating - or maybe I'm just jealous of such opulent wealth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fails to stick the course, 17 May 2011
By 
Dr Bob (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
It starts really well for two reasons, gripping background to the early history of Microsoft and written by an excellent ghost writer who can really make you turn pages. Sadly after Microsoft (approximately half the book) it turns down hill and all the things about ghost writing come to the surface, for example, on page 305 discussing his funding of Neuroscience:

"In March 2002, I invited 21 scientists, including 4 Nobel laureates, to join me at a 3 day brainstorming session, or charrette. The scientists assembled at the dock in Nassau in the Bahamas and ferried over to our conference center for the weekend, my yacht, Tatoosh, a serene setting for an intensive discussion."

An interesting early insight to his work at Microsoft, but definitely one to read the first half in the bookshop and leave on the shelf.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideas and Tensions, 8 May 2011
By 
Serghiou Const (Nicosia, Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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Ideas are certainly a defining characteristic of the book. Paul Allen's profound ideas in many realms had literally a transformative impact on our lives. But there is a second defining characteristic in this memoir which is conspiciously absent in the title but very much present in the book namely the intense tension between the two co-founders of Microsoft - Paul Allen and Bill Gates - and a resentment of Allen towards Gates focused on the intense competitiveness of the latter and his single-mindedness on winning everything for which there are many examples in the book.

The eureka moment for Paul Allen occurred in a chilly December day in 1974 when the author then aged twenty-one bought the new issue of Popular Electronics in Harvard square with cover story the Astair 8800, the first true personal computer. It dawned on him that he and his best friend, Bill Gates, then Harvard undergraduate possesssed the skills to code a programming language for Alstair. He rushed to Gates with the news and a partnership proposal. When Gates agreed to collabotate on Basic for Alstair the seeds were sown for what became the giant software company, Microsoft, and in the process rendering the two co-founders multibillionaires.

An important element for the success of the company and the enduring of their partnership for eight years from 1975 to 1983 was the complementarity of talents and traits of the two co-founders. The single-minded focus of Gates on winning everything was complemented by Allen's ability to see the bigger picture, his profound ability to revolutionize software and a breadth of outside interests varying from music to sports. Despite tensions, Allen acknowledges the unique nature of their partnership which he likens to that of Bill Hwelett and David Packard, or Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google.

Paul Allen after recurring episodes of cancer separated from Microsoft in 1983 although he kept his stakes in the company and left Gates in sole charge of Microsoft which as we have already mentioned rendered both men into billionaires.

But even after leaving Microsoft, Allen continued his entrepreneurial activities which explored the limits of human ingenuity from private space flight, brain science and digital knowledge-gathering.

The billionaire status of the author permitted him to engage additionally in professional sports teams, a mega-yacht, the Octopus and philanthropy.

The richness of ideas and interests permeating the book along with the intensity of emotions revealed, render the book a fascinating read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good start, boring middle, ok end, 7 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft (Kindle Edition)
I got this book after reading Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography. This doesn't live up to that, but it's still good to read. the start of the book for 50-80 pages is quiet interesting all about the early days in computing and Microsoft. But then it also covers all of Paul's activities after Microsoft which i wasn't too happy with as it was all just him selling himself.. You didn't see much about his failures or regrets etc.. but the end of the book got back to computing and end ok.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good on early years, 25 Mar 2013
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T. RING (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Excellent history of early Microsoft years, especially MITS era. The rest is 'meh', mildly interesting but not too much substance...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Important view on IT history, 20 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft (Kindle Edition)
I knew Microsoft was an important foundation of the tech industry. This book helps complete the picture and highlights Allen's significant contribution. Well worth a read
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