- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft Paperback – 3 May 2012
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Highly readable, refreshingly honest (Mail on Sunday)
A fascinating tale of the early days of the software industry (Financial Times)
A founding father of the modern information age . . . provides a fascinating insight into the ironies of capitalism (The Times)
He, and a tiny club of others, literally invented the twenty-first century (Bono)
Riveting reading (Observer)
From the Back Cover
'This son of Oklahoma...went on to create the engine that changed the world' Dan Ackroyd
What's it like to start a revolution?
How do you build the biggest tech company in the world?
And why do you walk away from it all?
Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft. Together he and Bill Gates turned an idea - writing software - into a company and then an entire industry. This is the story of how it came about: two young mavericks who turned technology on its head; the bitter battles as each tried to stamp his vision on the future; the ruthless brilliance and fierce commitment. And finally, Allen's extraordinary step in walking away from it all to discover what it is you do after you've already changed the world . . .
'Highly readable, refreshingly honest' Mail on Sunday
'A book filled with wild extremes: breakthrough, breakup, power, indulgence, blue-sky innovation. And it winds up offering Paul Allen's guarded, partial answer to a universal question: what if you could make your wildest dreams come true?' New York Times
'A fascinating tale of the early days of the software industry' Financial Times
'A fascinating insight into the life of a very private man' Business Life
'A founding father of the modern information age . . . provides a fascinating insight into the ironies of capitalism' The Times
'Fascinating, excellent' Washington Post
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
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.
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.
The book is in two parts, the early years, Microsoft history leading up to the break with Microsoft, and his remaining life since Microsoft.
I bought the book partly because I'm interested in software, partly in other peoples life stories.
I wasn't disappointed. I learned a lot on the history side because everybody has heard of bill gates, less so of Paul. Very interesting to hear his angle!
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews