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Idea Man

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  2,008 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
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, curiosi
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Portfolio (first published January 1st 2011)
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Otis Chandler
Great story about the founding of Microsoft from it's cofounder Paul Allen. I've read a few books about Microsofts history before (such as Gates), but it was fascinating to hear it from the horses mouth.

What stuck out for me was that Paul and Bill were on the cutting edge of software ever since they first saw a computer as teenagers. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers mentioned the fact that having access to a computer at that time was a huge advantage, and Paul's story confirms that. The world only
Mik Chernomordikov
Jun 29, 2012 Mik Chernomordikov rated it it was amazing
Биографии известных деятелей ИТ-индустрии в последнее время становятся все более популярными. И у этого есть в том числе объективные причины - пионеры индустрии и новых технологий достигают более чем зрелого возраста, а некоторые увы нас покидают. Если вы вдруг не читали биографию Стива Джобса, то очень рекомендую, там по-моему максимально объективно рассмотрены и его достижения, и методы работы, и взаимодействие с сотрудниками, коллегами и конкурентами.

Однако на этот раз мне в руки попала автоб
Richard Guion
Jun 28, 2011 Richard Guion rated it really liked it
Paul Allen's memoir made me nostalgic for the early days of the computer industry. Finding the love of programming with mainframes like DEC's PDP series, using punched cards with assembly language, long nights in the computer lab. In high school Allen started learning about computers and programming along with his freckle faced buddy, Bill Gates. The story of how they went from programming on timeshared mainframes in Seattle to working on BASIC for the Altair Computer is fascinating. While Gates ...more
Vincent O'Neil
Jun 02, 2015 Vincent O'Neil rated it really liked it
If you have very little or no experience with how computers run, you might be in a purple haze reading the autobiography of Paul Allen - IDEA MAN.

Fortunately, our family is blessed with more than our share of computer whiz-kids. It all started in the middle 80s when our oldest son received a Commodore 64 as a Christmas present. He had that thing maxed out by lunch.

When I introduced a full-blown PC into the house in the 90s, it developed a problem. I took the machine back to the dealer, and the
Apr 29, 2011 Brinton rated it liked it
This book on paper seems like the perfect match for me:

-My Industry
-My Town
-My High School
-My Sports teams

But the story just didn't satisfy. The backstory of Microsoft is mildly interesting but not detailed enough to really stand on its own. Plus Allen's open contempt for Gates seems a bit overdone; even if he is just being completely honest I'm not sure why he pays Bill so many back-handed complements and outright jabs. What's in it for Paul except a desperate attempt to claim his rightful plac
I enjoyed parts of this book, other parts I found to be lacking in direction and structure, but, perhaps that was Allen's goal (a free-flowing of his consciousness) it is, after all, partly auto-biographical.

I have to confess I enjoyed the sections with Bill Gates the most. This seems to be an honest, objective approach of Gates (Paul pointed out his talents as well as his flaws).

Paul grew up in a middle-class setting. He was precocious and his parents noticed his innate ability in science and
Jean Poulos
Jun 20, 2016 Jean Poulos rated it really liked it
This is not the history of the Microsoft company but the memoir of Paul Allen one of the founders. The narration is first person and freestyle; he tells it like he saw it.

Apparently Allen had been fighting cancer when he left Microsoft. He continued on the Board of Directors and retained 28% share in the Company. Allen goes over the BASIC programming language that he and Bill Gates developed for the Altair computer. Allen’s major contribution was in developing the tools for building their progra
Apr 30, 2014 Dustin rated it liked it
Interesting memoir from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The chapters in which he discusses the company that made him billions are, predictably, the most interesting, but Allen has been involved in a variety of projects since he left Microsoft in the '80s. His adventures as a pro sports owner (Trailblazers, Seahawks), involvement in private space exploration and funding of genetic brain research, among others, are enjoyable reads, even if they do have a glossed over gee-whiz element to them. ...more
Jim Razinha
Apr 26, 2014 Jim Razinha rated it it was amazing
Excellent. I want to adopt him as my eccentric rich uncle and hope he sends a little my way. What does a very wealthy person do when he's no longer driving the technical side of Microsoft? Well, pretty much anything. He lived for himself - Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks, plus a 414 foot yacht that has a minisub and two helos - and others. Unlike the Koch brothers who only know how to destroy with their wealth, Allen helped so many people, including villages in Africa. Mapping the bra ...more
Jun 19, 2016 Abhishek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a fascinating read into the world of technology, how it came about, and one some of the instrumental players behind bringing it to life, as we know it.

Paul comes across as a candid, fair, and the next door person. His vision has been ahead of time. His company with Bill Gates helped immensely in execution of the vision. Bill comes across as a shrewd businessman, who is also a good friend who somehow manages to maintain this split personality of being cut throat on the business tab
Nov 02, 2016 Sunita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astounding life revealed in a well-written book! Paul revolutionized or contributed heavily to diverse industries and fields like computer software, neuroanatomy, commercial space travel, scientific research, AI, environment conservation, the music industry and more. The book shares his story in a superb yet simple, honest way.. inspirational, a must-read for tech enthusiasts..
Kalle Wescott
Nov 16, 2016 Kalle Wescott rated it it was amazing
Most of you will give this book 2 or 3 stars, but I like autobiographies like these, so for me, it was 5 stars.
Aug 18, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
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 grippe
Book Calendar
Jun 14, 2011 Book Calendar rated it really liked it
dea Man A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft by Paul Allen

Paul Allen founded Microsoft with Bill Gates. They went to the same high school together and were close friends. They also were part of the early history of personal computers. Microsoft was founded on the program BASIC. One of the reasons it grew to prominence was also because it designed the disk operating system for IBM.

Paul Allen does an excellent job describing the relentless drive behind people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I l
Aug 28, 2016 Sudarshan rated it really liked it
Idea Man is an autobiography, written by the man himself, Paul G. Allen. Now if you take a random person on the street and ask him/her who Paul Allen is, its a good bet that they won't know who he is. For the reader, Paul G. Allen co-founded Microsoft along with Bill Gates. Instrumental in the genesis of Microsoft, he was the idea-man as well as the "tech-guy" at Microsoft.

This book isn't about the company he built though. The first half describes his childhood and his journey about how he co-fo
K2 -----
Mar 05, 2013 K2 ----- rated it really liked it
I am from Paul Allen's home town and have often seen his yachts and wondered what they are like inside so this book was interesting.

More interesting was hearing his perspective on Microsoft's early days and his important work on mapping the brain. Music has always played a big role in his life and he has a recording studio on both his boats... and submarines. He tells of his fascination with space and his intelligence shines through. Being a major Hendrix fan he tells how Jimmi rocked his world
Shahnawaz Haque
Jun 15, 2016 Shahnawaz Haque rated it really liked it
A well-written narration of OS mammoth.The book is in some way similar to iWoz,Steve Wozniak (the brain behind Apple).Why Microsoft lost its charm in a decade could be because of its vision.Paul was thinking way ahead of his time.Microsoft will be remembered in history to shape up personal and enterprise computing industry.While Steve Jobs claims how he introduced GUI to the world. Paul mention "Hey,Steve,just because you broke into Xerox's house before I did and took the TV doesn't mean I can't ...more
Blair Conrad
May 11, 2011 Blair Conrad rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, nonfiction
Pretty good. I don't read many memoirs, so I don't have much to compare it to. Heck, I'm not even sure what I was hoping to get out of the book. I enjoyed the early bits about Allen and Gates's partnership. The story of the early growth of Microsoft was pretty interesting. I think I was expecting something a little more The Social Networky than I got, but I wasn't disappointed with the story.

After that, the book became a laundry list of Allen's endeavours and experiences since Microsoft. This is
Apr 25, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
Though not even half way through this book, it has been a lot of fun to read so far. I am sure the book is jaded with Paul Allen's take on things, but it has been fun to look back and be reminded of things from when I was a kid. I grew up with the technology mentioned in this book.

I remember going with my dad, in the Orange Pinto Station Wagon with Wood Paneling, to Computerland in Tigard, Oregon where my dad purchased an Apple II. I remember my dad took that computer with him on business trips
May 06, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
A fascinating look into the development of software and the partnership of Paul Allen and Bill Gates. They both needed each other because of their different strengths and weaknesses. Paul is more of an inductive thinker and needs someone to keep him tethered to realistic possibilities. Bill is more pragmatic and more of an overall business thinker. Needless to say, both are brilliant, successful, hard workers, and extremely generous with their time and money.

I enjoyed the first half of the book
Eric Pulsifer
Apr 19, 2016 Eric Pulsifer rated it liked it
Idea Man gives a peek behind the beginnings of the company formerly known as Micro-Soft, especially with the dynamics between Allen and cofounder Bill Gates. It more or less confirms Gates as the opportunistic type who chipped into Allen's ownership stake bit by bit (by citing how much actual work each partner put into a project), but shut Allen down when he made the same pitch.

Allen explores some of his ideas that worked well, along with the real turkeys. Some were just plain lousy ideas, some
Apr 29, 2015 Remo rated it it was amazing
I think this is the best autobiography I've ever read. Much more than inside baseball on the founding of Microsoft, , Allen has an engaging writing style that isn't pompous or obviously full of himself. A recurring theme is obvious from the title, that he considers himself an idea man, but Allen makes it clear he sometimes was too far ahead in his ideas or too disengaging on following them to completion. Some of the chapters that described how badly he invested in tech companies had me wondering ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Marc rated it it was amazing
Imagine retiring as a billionaire at 30. What would you do?

Paul Allen has done so many interesting things feeding an insatiable curiosity since having a cancer death scare and a falling out with Bill Gates at 29. From this book it is obvious that losing Bill Gates as a trusted friend is what hurt most and drove him to other pursuits.

His research was always spot on with the next big thing, but his timing was often not in sync with the market. Going solo his pursuits were always interesting but wi
Nancy Schober
Jun 17, 2011 Nancy Schober rated it it was amazing
What a great 'fly on the wall' peek into the start of Microsoft. I was surprised at the scope and number of bad investments he made. Personally I could have skipped the sports chapter. Allen seems like 'just a guy' even with his heaps of $$$ he still is in awe of certain musicians he admires. And can't quite seem to grasp the immensity of his wealth. How terrific that he survived his 'wake-up' calls and could go on to enjoy his money and put it to good use. What a fantastic role model.

I supposed
Jean-marc Krikorian
Aug 07, 2011 Jean-marc Krikorian rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook
It was interesting to finally read the life and times of Paul Allen. He's always seemed to be in the shadows. Some parts of the book were slow/boring but that comes from my bias to really want to hear more about his memoirs around high technology.

You can tell in the book that he's trying to make a name for himself especially since everyone equates Microsoft to Bill Gates (mostly). It was impressive to see how many fields of interest Paul has and the contributions he's made to a variety of fields
Jul 23, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it
Being a few years behind Mr. Allen it was very interesting to read where he talks about a number of the early PC’s and programmer’s from the beginning and realizing that I actually remember a number of these or have worked on them, or with the companies. But when he starts talking money it tends to blow you away. If you have lived in Seattle all your life, like I have you always end up either knowing someone who has worked on Allen’s house, seen the yacht or seen him at an event having a great ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Melodie rated it liked it
Can this much ego and hubris be rolled into one person? I leave it to all who read his memoir to decide. Whatever you think of him personally, he, along with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and a handful of others changed the way we view the world. Along the way, he became incredibly wealthy and in this book he not only touches on the beginning of Microsoft, but enumerates all of the ways he's spent his billions of dollars -- often doing good, but he has also indulged himself as well on a grand scale. ...more
Dec 17, 2011 Andrew rated it did not like it
The first half of this book is Paul trying to prove that he is right. He details how Microsoft was started and the relationship he and Bill had. Allen comes off as an extreme jerk, a difficult thing to achieve in your own memoir. Allen tries to take credit for nearly every leap in technology for the past 30 years even if another company achieved it. He tends to claim he had the idea long before other companies executed them. If he did great, but why then did Microsoft not execute them. Durring ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Shaun rated it really liked it
This was a book by the man who started and co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates. I was interested to hear how they started Microsoft and learn why he split up with Bill and left Microsoft. It was interesting to hear how he spent his time and and money once he left Microsoft. He is a single man who has several billion dollars and I thought it might turn into a book about a selfish man who has too much money and not enough time to spend it all, so he's pouring it down the drain into many ...more
Alex Rogers
Sep 10, 2012 Alex Rogers rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebooks
"It was okay" sums it up for me. Allen is interesting both for his place in developing Microsoft, as well as for the more tabloid interest in precisely how you go about spending so much money, and the book adequately covers both. But it is a fairly pedestrian autobiography, and like many, is not particularly introspective or illuminating on Allen's true character, but paints him in the light he sees himself (quite flattering). There is no real depth of analysis, personal insights - but he does ...more
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started Microsoft with Bill Gates. He is founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., the company that oversees his business and philanthropic activities.

Allen started Microsoft with Gates, a childhood friend, in Albuquerque in 1975. He was the company's chief technologist until he left in 1983.

Since then, Allen has become one of the nation's leading philanthropists and continues the search for knowledg
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“Here's what the death knell for the personal computer will sound like: Mainly I use my phone/paid, but I still use my PC to write long e-mails and documents. Most people aren't there yet, but that's where we're headed” 3 likes
“For the most part, the best opportunities now lie where your competitors have yet to establish themselves, not where they're already entrenched. Microsoft is struggling to adapt to that new reality.” 3 likes
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