It All Started Out…..Answers to “Fun with Numbers”……

 So how do the following numbers relate to Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen?  

Here is a quick rundown of the answers to this test. You guys just narrowly missed a 10 pp. mind-numbing lecture on the history of the PC, but I shortened it considerably because, as they say at Reader’s Digest, “Brevity is…. wit.”* 🙂 

For an account of PC history that won’t bore you (and some interviews that I would give my right arm for, go to)…..  

 O.k., here are the answers: How do the following numbers relate to Paul Allen? 

1)       8080—The Intel chip that started it all. The 8080 microchip was the CPU microprocessor—the brain—of the Altair, the world’s first personal computer. The Altair was invented by the brilliant Ed Roberts as a last ditch attempt to save his failing calculator company, MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) which was going under because larger competitors like Texas Instruments were selling calculators below cost in order to kill the competition. (Like THAT ever happens in business:-)   A $65,000. loan made the difference between closing MITS or producing the Altair PC. The fate of an entire industry rested on a single meeting between Ed Roberts and his creditors! Luckily he got the money, produced the microcomputers, and… January of 1975….

 2)       1975—….The Altair computer was advertised on the cover of Popular Electronics and a young Bill Gates and Paul Allen seized the opportunity to make history by writing a language to make the computer useable.  That same year, Allen and Gates founded Micro-soft, and the company’s first year profits amounted to a whopping $16,005. See… 

3)       8800—Not to be confused with the 8080, the Intel chip, the Altair, named after a Star Trek destination, was actually called the Altair 8800. 

 4)       2+2=4—Proof that the program that the kids wrote for the Altair computer worked.  At his meeting with Ed Roberts at MITS, a nervous Paul Allen entered the paper tape loader into the Altair and typed in “Print 2+2.” After the computer went through its paces, the Altair responded “4.” It was an historic moment—the moment that hardware met software and a new industry was born.  

 5)       414 ft. The length of Paul Allen’s little dinghy—o.k., maybe better described as a Megayacht:-)—Octopus. Though it was at one time the largest privately owned yacht in the world, it has since been surpassed by Larry Ellison’s Rising Sun at 452’8” ft and the Al Salamah at 456’ 10.”   

But the Octopus may still be the coolest ship around with a basketball court, a recording studio, a cinema, and a glass bottom lounge on the lower deck that allows guests to see the ocean below.  It even comes equipped with it’s own submarine!  

6)  1986—The year that Microsoft went public, making both Allen and Gates instant multimillionaires (on their way to billionaires). 

A few great articles about this event can be found at: 


 7)       10/04/04—The day that Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne won the X-prize. See… 

(Cool connections: October 4 was also the anniversary date of Sputnik’s launch in 1957. Due to the Cold War with Russia, U.S. President Eisenhower become very nervous that the Russians had the technology to send stuff into space and America didn’t. So he instituted a number of programs designed to strengthen U.S. Defense, including the establishment of a kind of data communications system called the ARPANET, a program that ended up being the precursor to the Internet. 

And….Paul Allen has often been called the “Wired World” guy for his investments in Internet-related technologies long before the Net, as we know it, was well established. 

Sooo…… I guess you could say that the “Wired World” guy jumpstarted the private space travel industry on the anniversary date of the space event that jumpstarted the “Wired World.” 

(I don’t know why that thrills me, but it does;-).

 8)       3 people 62 miles 2 times within 14 days—The first Microsoft carpool (they actually did go home occasionally:-). (No—I’m just kidding:-)—It’s actually the contest rules for the first Ansari X-prize, which was won by Paul Allen’s spacecraft, SpaceShipOne.

 See.. (

From Wikipedia: The contest winner was to be the first team to launch a piloted spacecraft, carrying at least three crewmembers (or one human pilot and payload equivalent to two more), to an altitude of at least 100 kilometers (328,100 ft or 62.14 mi), and then repeat the feat using the same spacecraft within two weeks. Reaching orbit was not a goal, and so all the competitors aimed to make suborbital flights only. The spacecraft were permitted to land at the same site that they launched from. The 100 km target is the boundary of space as defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale       

9) What is the value of X?      The value of X is 8080.  The answer to the equation is 1600, a perfect score on the SAT (Paul Allen’s score) , but the value of X is 8080. Sorry if you tried to figure this one out! But I TOLD you to skip to question 10:-) 

10)    1600— If you didn’t know the answer to this one, you are just sooooo not paying attention!!!:-) 

Extra credit question:       34 – 14  The NFC championship final score last January between the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers; a game where Seattle might have crowned Paul Allen Emperor if Seahawks fans could have gotten it through the Legislature (where is Maria Cantwell when you really need her?).  

 So how did you do? 

If you got 1 or less correct:You are sooo not a geek…… 

If you got 5 or more correct, I’m guessing you’re smart, but you have a life. 

If you got all of the answers right, you are welcome to my used salad shooter, but I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you are some sort of computer genius who can actually afford a brand new one…. 


 If you are really interested in historic mainframe and mini computers, Allen has a site with some great photos and even an opportunity to open an account and have a little fun with the older computer systems.  See it at: 

One more thing: in November of this year, Paul Allen will be unveiling yet another museum,  this one in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the birthplace of Microsoft. Knowing Paul Allen, that exhibit will answer questions about the history of the personal computer that you never knew you had to ask.      ________________________________________

*Borrowed from “The Simpsons”

 And now on to the next question—how about linking Paul Allen with a U.S. President from the 60’s? Stay tuned……:-)