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Microsoft Co-Founder, Philanthropist Paul Allen Dies At Age 65

Paul Gardner Allen was best known as a co-founder of Microsoft with his college friend Bill Gates, but for the last 30 years he has been a major philanthropist as well an investor in space-related projects.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft who went on to become a major investor in technology and media companies, a philanthropist, and the owner of two professional sports teams, has died at the age of 65.

Allen's death was announced by Vulcan Inc., the Seattle-based organization he used for his philanthropic initiatives.

According to a statement from Allen's family posted on the Vulcan website, Allen died on Monday from complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Seattle.

[Related: Steve Jobs, Whose Tech Products Delighted A Generation, Dies At 56]

Allen, along with his Harvard classmate Bill Gates, co-founded Microsoft, and was a key driver behind many of the company's key early technologies including MS-DOS, MS Word, Windows, and the Microsoft Mouse. He left Microsoft in 1983 after a battle with Hodgkin's disease, but remained on the board until resigning in 2000.

While at Microsoft, Allen played a key role in the development of that company's indirect sales channel. He was recognized by CRN in 1998 as a Hall of Fame inductee.

Allen founded Vulcan in 1986 to manage his multiple philanthropic and business ventures.

Allen's interests expanded far beyond tech. He was a guitar player, and founded three museums. He is also the owner of the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks and the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers.

Allen was also the investor behind Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne sub-orbital private commercial space venture, and in 2011 launched Stratolaunch systems, developer of a six-engine jet aircraft that is expected to be able to carry a rocket to high altitude where it could launch a spacecraft at a lower cost than traditional rocket launches.

Allen and his sister Jody Allen also work together with Vulcan Productions, which has received several awards.

On the philanthropic side, his organization -- the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation -- has supported multiple non-profit organizations. Allen himself signed The Giving Pledge, under which he promised to leave at least half of his estate to philanthropic causes.

Allen was one of those rare individuals with the fortune to make a monumental mark on human history, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at 1Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider.

"Every generation has a handful of people that have the intelligence, the foresight, the talent, and the luck that leads to society-shaping impacts," Woodall told CRN. "Paul Allen was such a person."

There are lots of successful business people who have big impacts on business and society, Woodall said. "But Microsoft was a pioneer in the tech business," he said. "Allen was able to help shape the world in a way few people can do. He positively impacted billions of people."

Allen left an amazing legacy, Woodall said.

"Think of Microsoft and its role in developing the PC, the client-server, the cloud, and IoT," he said. "What Allen helped start has kept up with the changes and has led the industry. Not many people get to be involved with shepherding something that important for decades."

Allen led an amazing and inspiring life, Woodall said. "Think about it," he said. "You never know what impact you might have. It may not be as grand as Allen and Microsoft, but you never know where the opportunities lead."

Jody Allen, in a statement released Monday, called her brother a remarkable person on every level.

"While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day," Allen said

Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf in a statement released Monday said Allen had the intellect and passion to solve some of the world's most pressing problems.

"Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal. Paul’s life was diverse and lived with gusto. It reflected his myriad interests in technology, music and the arts, biosciences and artificial intelligence, conservation and in the power of shared experience – in a stadium or a neighborhood – to transform individual lives and whole communities," Hilf said.

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