Bill Gates

“Are you ready?  Ready for the playoffs?”*

…Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen is — in a big way.  His “first love”*1, the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that he’s owned for the past 21 years,  has made it into the Playoffs, and no one is more excited than the owner.   One of the most devoted owners in the NBA, Paul Allen has always been his team’s biggest fan.   

Allen attends a majority of the Blazers games, bought the team’s game stadium twice and weighs in enthusiastically on every decision, often splurging on players and expenses.  He installed equipment aboard his ships that lets him watch Blazers games when he is away from home.  And when Allen was asked to give the commencement speech to the graduating class at WSU in 1999, he graciously agreed, but gave it long distance via satellite uplink, speaking to Washington graduates from the Portland Rose Garden Arena so he wouldn’t miss a Playoff game.

So his Trail Blazers’ entry this year into yet another Playoffs series is a thrill—still a major thrill— to a guy who has had more than a few thrilling moments in his lifetime.  Blazermania is back and no one is more caught up in the wave of excitement than the owner himself.

Current adventure, Trail Blazers. Past adventures?  This guy’s had a few.  Hopefully he’ll tell us more about all of them in his upcoming memoirs.   Don’t hold back, Paul—we want to know EVERYTHING !!!!! 🙂

In the meantime, here is a sampling of Paul Allen’s ideas about — Paul Allen, of course — from his statements to the press through the years.  So, here you go….Part Three of Paul Allen: In His Own Words:

The projects you have funded so far cover a wide range of fields. What are the criteria you look for?

“I ask myself: What are the great questions in science, the knowledge that we are just scratching the surface of?  The chance that we are going to pick up the phone and an alien is going to be on the other end is small, but it is certainly worth—on a modest scale, for me—seeing if we can enable some of that research.  There are these greenfield areas like the human brain, systems biology, ­understanding how cells work internally, and how the proteins interact inside the cell. That’s an area I’m thinking about. Then there are the global issues we have today: global warming, the environment, and disease. I don’t know that I could make a difference in theoretical physics; that’s basically a bunch of mathematical and theoretical geniuses at different places. I’m not sure how anyone could make them work any faster than they are.”
The Discover Interview, Evan Ratliff

On Advice to Young People
If you are starting any new venture, try to find people who share your
dreams with the same enthusiasm that you do and that can complement your
strengths and bolster your weaknesses.  Start with small but achievable
dreams and under the right circumstances, these small dreams can lead to
bigger ones. Remember that you have all of the open-mindedness,
fearlessness and enthusiasm of youth.  Believe in the possibility of success.
From Paul Allen’s WSU Speech to graduating class via satellite uplink from the Rose Garden Arena upon receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award—1999

Quote from the website (years ago):
  “What is the best advice, business or otherwise, you’ve had and from whom?
The best advice I’ve received came many years ago from my father.  He told me that you should love whatever work you do, you should try to find something you truly enjoy.  And I’ve been lucky through the years that the work I’ve been involved with has been challenging and for the most part, fun.”

On Trying New Things:

 You have to find and appreciate the joy and beauty of the world.  And
many times that comes if you force yourself to try things that you
otherwise might be skeptical of beginning.  In my case I discovered
scuba diving, but any kind of adventure that takes you totally out of
your normal life and into a different environment or meeting different
people can be very rewarding. Also, if you force yourself to be more
adventurous, the more ideas and different types of people you will meet
and the richer your life will become intellectually and otherwise…….
 From Paul Allen’s WSU Speech to graduating class via satellite uplink from the Rose Garden Arena upon receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award–1999

On His Childhood in Seattle:
From “Paul Allen Unplugged” Dec. 2003 Columns UW Magazine
Tom Griffin
 While many of our alumni know of your generous contributions to the University, most don’t know of the UW connections going back to your childhood. Your father Ken Allen began his career with the University libraries in 1951, two years before you were born, and was Associate Director of the libraries from 1960-1982. Did your Dad open the resources of the UW  libraries to you when you were a child?
A. I spent many weekends in Suzzallo Library as I was growing up. I remember spending hours just combing through the stacks of musty books, including early books about computers. Books about science and aviation in particular were some of my favorites.
Did your family have season tickets to Husky games?
A. Yes, my father had season tickets for the Huskies for my whole childhood and I remember going to many Husky games with him. One of the reasons that I really wanted to have an open-air stadium for SeahawksStadium is that I have fond memories of wandering around Husky Stadium with my Dad, eating hot dogs and being able to watch the Huskies play outdoors in the elements—I think it’s one of the best parts about football!
Do you recall attending any open houses or science fairs at the UW that might have sparked your interest in computers?
I went to science fairs many times and had a lot of fun. More than anything it enhanced my love of science— and I carry that excitement with me today. I am particularly interested in how the brain works, and what we might be able to learn by looking at the role of the human genome in the function and anatomy of the brain. 

On His Eclectic Interests

“Allen says his business success is partly a result of his wide range of interests, which he thinks allows him to see connections between disparate areas that others may miss. His credits his parents, who gave him an open-minded start, dragging  Paul and his sister Jody to galleries, the opera, science museums, dance concerts and aviation exhibits. “Even as a kid, every year I was interested in something different,” Allen says, “whether it was chemistry or cards or physics or electronics or space travel or music.”    (Over the Horizon with Paul Allen: Another Microsoft Billionaire Speaks. Fortune: 7/11/1994 by David Kirkpatrick.)


From The Discover Interview with Paul Allen (by Evan Ratliff )
What do you think are the chances of SETI’s succeeding—in other words, of finding intelligent life beyond our world?
“The scientists are optimistic because they think that if they have better instruments that look deeper or on more frequencies, there should be civilizations out there broadcasting. I think everybody would admit it’s a long shot, but if that long shot comes in… wow.”
If they do get the signal, will you be the first person they call?
“Actually, first they call the White House. At one point they told me I was third or fourth on the list. So I guess that’s one of the benefits of funding the project. But the phone hasn’t rung yet.”
What would that kind of discovery mean to you?
“That would be such a life-changing thing, for us all to know that there are other beings out there who we could potentially communicate with, or maybe we are listening to a signal that they transmitted hundreds of millennia ago. And then we’d say, “Well, what was in the message? Can we decode the message, and can we communicate back? What are they really like? Are they oxygen-breathing bipeds, or are they a gas cloud on some gas-giant planet?”

On Music   Gene Stout Seattle P-I
June 22, 2000   The Visionary: Jimi Hendrix set off a spark in Paul Allen’s Imagination  (On Jimi Hendrix, music and the Experience Music Project Music Museum):
I think Jimi expressed in some of his interviews, and in his songs, the idea that music serves as a magic carpet that can take you to different places,” Allen says. “There’s a churchlike feeling there, and great music makes the spirit soar.”  …..

“………..”It was really a challenge to come up with things that were hands-on, yet robust enough to stand up to thousands of people using them and still allow a level of instruction for someone who hasn’t had much experience playing an instrument,” Allen says. 
“We just want to get them excited about music and think, ‘Hey, here’s a door I can go through.’ There’s a lot of fun and excitement in self-expression.” 


 On Football:

“Hail From the Chief” by Brian Davis from the Seahawks’ website:
“My experience with football goes back to watching Husky games with my father when I was under the age of 10—outdoors, eating a hot dog and cracking open some peanuts and seeing a game played out in the elements. That’s real football to me, so that was my dream and I think we’re delivering on that.”

On Science Fiction and  the Science Fiction Museum
  “The Microsoft billionaire, whose personal collection inspired the idea for a museum, hopes the facility attracts droves of sci-fi fans from around the galaxy.
“I was exposed to science fiction at an early age,” Allen says. “I think… it’s actually about science and where science is going to take humanity and culture in the future.”

On The Allen Institute for Brain Science

From “Piece of Mind” The Economist 
   “The scientists used state-of-the-art technology to dissect a mouse brain, photographed it sliver section by section, then reassembled it in a computer database that would allow easy access. But it was the speed at which the project was accomplished and what they did with it afterwards that changed the game.
They released it to the public. Over the Internet. Free.
When we first put the mouse-brain atlas online free, it was met by the research world with suspicion. People wondered what the catch was. Scientific research has long been a solitary endeavour—one researcher, one microscope. Findings are protected so that discovery credit can be clearly defined and awarded. This is a successful model and will continue to be.
However, the Human Genome Project demonstrated a different path: multiple teams working collaboratively towards a common goal. I believe a real acceleration in progress and innovation comes from the open sharing of ideas and collaboration. We wanted the mouse atlas to be free and available for all to use as the basis for foundational research and discovery.
A new generation of implantable pacemakers for the brain will be widely used to treat everything from depression to addiction and Parkinson’s disease
If we thought it would be a hit right out of the gate, we were slightly wrong. It took a while for people to trust that it really was free to use. No one believed in a free lunch.
Now, things have changed. Today we have many scientists using the atlas for their research into Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorders, Down’s syndrome, Parkinson’s, fragile x mental retardation and epilepsy. The atlas is also giving scientists insight into alcoholism, obesity, sleep, hearing and memory.”

And from a recent Wired Article:

In March 2002, Paul Allen—co-founder of Microsoft and 41st-richest person in the world—brought together a dozen neuroscientists for a three-day meeting aboard his 300-foot yacht, Tatoosh, which was anchored in Nassau, Bahamas. At the time, Allen’s philanthropic work consisted of an eclectic (some say frivolous) set of endeavors. There was the Experience Music Project in Seattle, a rock-and-roll museum designed by Frank Gehry; the Allen Telescope Array, 350 radio telescopes dedicated to deep-space observation and the search for extraterrestrial life; and SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded plane developed to put a human in space. But Allen was eager to start something new: a project involving neuroscience. He was excited by the sheer uncharted mystery of the mind—one of the last, great scientific frontiers—hoping a single large-scale endeavor could transform the field.
“I first got interested in the brain through computers,” Allen says. “There’s a long history of artificial intelligence programs that try to mimic what the brain is doing, but they’ve all fallen short. Here’s this incredible computer, a really astonishing piece of engineering, and we have no idea how it works.”
Over several days, Allen asked the neuroscientists to imagine a way to move their field forward dramatically. “I wanted them to think big,” he says. “Like the Human Genome Project, only for the brain.” (Jonah Lehrer 3/23/09)

and from The Discover Interview: Paul Allen by Evan Ratliff
Your interest in the workings of the brain seems like a logical step for someone who started out writing software.
“Yeah, if you are involved in computers, at some point you end up being fascinated by the idea of the human brain. The human brain works in a completely different fashion from a computer and does some things so much better than a computer, and this may remain true for the next 100, 200 years. How can that be? So I brought a bunch of neuroscientists together and asked, “What can I do that would be interesting and different that would potentially help the field of neuroscience move forward?” The answer was a genetic database of the mouse brain.”

On Space Travel:


Paul G. Allen
Remarks on Winning ‘The Robert J. Collier Trophy’
National Air and Space Museum
Washington, DC
April 19, 2005
from website

  “I feel I’ve been lucky to be part of three great waves of change—the personal computer, the Internet, and now private space travel.  All were extraordinary, but for sheer adrenaline, nothing will ever top that day last June when we first sent Mike Melvill to the edge of space in SpaceShipOne. 
I was always interested in flight and growing up in Seattle in the 1950s and ’60s was a great place to explore those interests. We had the World’s Fair, a strong local aeronautics industry, and I loved going to the library with my mother where I found books like Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo,” or Willy Ley’s “Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel.” 
Science fiction was great back then, but it was amazing how much trouble it had keeping up with the reality of actual space travel. Like millions of American kids, I followed the Mercury suborbital flights, then Gemini, and then the Apollo lunar missions. I remember how exciting it was to watch those events on our grainy black and white TV set. Like many kids back then, I built scores of airplane and rocket models, and naturally, I had a plastic Air Force helmet with a flip-down visor. I even had hopes to become an astronaut one day. But after my 5th grade teacher realized I was sitting in the front row of class and squinting—it became apparent that I was nearsighted and I realized that becoming an astronaut was not in the cards for me. 
I have no doubt that these formative early experiences with space exploration helped fuel my desire to build and program computers. That same spirit of invention was always in the air in the early days of Microsoft. With SpaceShipOne, the work we did with Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled reminded me in many ways of the work Bill Gates and I were doing when we were just starting out. There aren’t that many times in your life you get to work on a project that is challenging, groundbreaking, and just plain fun.”

Recently on space travel, while watching friend Charles Simonyi blast off into space for a trip to the International Space Station:

“It’s fantastic to see a launch, but when it’s one of your friends it’s just something so special,”  Allen told Associated Press.   Allen said he would not be interested into getting into orbit using Russian technology, but is hoping to using his own spacecraft. He is a major investor in SpaceShipOne, the first commercial space operation.,+Science+and+Technology+Figures/Paul+Allen/0dnL0857t8gym/4 )
 On SpaceShipOne:

” As an engineer, I’ve learned to avoid words like “awesome” or “amazing” that don’t describe things specifically; but I can’t think of any other way to describe Burt’s team and what they have achieved. With only 20-odd people, working out of a simple hangar in the Mojave Desert, they reinvented, for all time, the way we view space exploration—that we can accomplish it in new and cost-effective ways as private enterprise, and that soon it will be a possibility for a great many of us.

I’d also like to say a word about courage. Never in my career have I put my own life on the line to advance knowledge. Our pilots did just that. I can’t say enough to convey my thanks to Mike Melvill, Brian Binnie and their families for their commitment to SpaceShipOne. Without them, none of us would be here today. The early aircraft pioneer Otto Lilienthal once said, “To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything.”…………………..
…………..But I hope SpaceShipOne does more than just bring people to the edge of space. I hope it helps to rekindle a passion for aviation, rocketry and exploration among kids. And I hope it motivates educators to lay the important foundation of making science and math really engaging to a new generation of students. ” (Collier speech as posted on
On the Biggest Thrill: 

 “I feel I’ve been lucky to be part of three great waves of change—the personal computer, the Internet, and now private space travel. All were extraordinary, but for sheer adrenaline, nothing will ever top that day last June when we first sent Mike Melvill to the edge of space in SpaceShipOne.” (Collier)
On what he wants to be his legacy:
 “You just try to create things or look for opportunities to do things for the world at large that are going to make the world a better place.”

On The Future:

 “I was always thinking about the future as a kid,” he says. “When you’re
a kid, you think anything is possible. You don’t know about constraints.”

  Living: Sunday, June 14, 1998  A Wealth Of Interests — The Big-Idea Billionaire — Paul Allen Is Into
Sports, Technology, Music, Real Estate, Movies – And He’s Not Done Yet”  by Richard Seven
  (He still does think anything is possible, or at least he seems to….)
 “From technology to science to music to art, I’m inspired by those who’ve blurred the boundaries, who’ve looked at the possibilities, and said, “What if…? 
 In my own work, I’ve tried to anticipate what’s coming over the horizon, to hasten its arrival, and to apply it to people’s lives in a meaningful way. Challenges inspire me, whether it’s pushing further into space than any private citizen ever has, as with SpaceShipOne or into the inner reaches of the human mind, as with the Allen Brain Atlas initiative. The varied possibilities of the universe have dazzled me since I was a child, and they continue to drive my work, my investments, and my philanthropy.”
 I hope you believe, as I do, in the inexhaustible ability of human beings to find answers to problems, to create works of beauty and originality, and to craft vital new ideas inspired by those who’ve gone before. The possible is constantly being redefined, and I care deeply about helping humanity move forward. “
(From Paul Allen’s website
 And as he said a couple of years ago, in Paul Allen’s own words…..

  “I’m not near the end of the story.”  (Microsoft Co-founder’s Dreams Funded into Reality  by Allison Linn   1/17/05)
I can’t wait to hear more…..looking forward to hearing the rest of the story in your memoirs, Paul!!!!…. 🙂


*From Jason Quick of the Oregonian: (

“A scene that shows how fired up owner Paul Allen is: As the media was waiting to get inside the postgamelocker room, Allen emerged from his private suite. As he walked through the gauntlet of reporters he looked at me and smiled. “Are you ready? Ready for the playoffs?” And with that, he extended a fist for a fist-bump. I think it’s safe to say Paul is ready for the playoffs. And I think it’s safe to say Paul is glad he didn’t sell the team a couple of years ago. I still contend he is one of the best owners in sports.”


 He’s been touted as the “Pharaoh of the Pacific Northwest” for his renovation of South Lake Union in Seattle, and listed among Time Magazine’s Most Influential for two years running. He owns 3 major league sports teams, and has left big footprints in several industries, including computers, medicine and space travel. And yet Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen has been described as a down-to-earth, regular guy—“the nicest billionaire you’ll ever meet.”


But just in case you never do meet him, you can still see that “Regular Guy” side of Allen via a few videos that have been floating around the Internet lately.


Check it out:

1) Shaq Attack:

Basketball phenom Shaquille O’Neal recovers gracefully from a tumble into the stands by shaking the hand of Trail Blazers owner, Paul Allen.


2) High Five:

A Seahawks win has owner Paul Allen and fans in a very good mood. Check out this video of Allen high-fiving Seattle Seahawks fans as he walks off the field.


3) Twice Bitten:

Here Paul Allen is a good sport as he is attacked by a “vampire” while chatting with a comely news reporter about Gwen Stefani and technology.


4) Cannes Hello:

Here is a video of Allen in Cannes, France, coming ashore from a trip aboard one of his megayachts, Tatoosh. His lovely home in St. Jean Cap-Ferrat, called Villa Maryland,  was a hangout for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt during the 61st Cannes Film Festival last summer.


5) Blazers Workout:

Here is Paul Allen again after a Blazers workout, chatting about chatting with some dynamic new potential players from France — in French, no less.


6) Blazers Press Conference:

And here he is again talking about his favorite basketball team.



 7) Beard or No Beard?

 Here is Paul Allen joking around with Bill Gates as the famous photo from 1978 is retaken 30 years later: (2:30 minutes into the program):


(From BBC’s “The Money Programme: Bill Gates: How a Geek Changed the World.” (Part 2)


8 ) A Computer on Every Desk:


And here he is talking about the realization of the dream that he and Bill Gates had of putting a computer in every home and on every desk:


9) Best Computer History Video of All Time:

If you haven’t seen Robert Cringley’s “Triumph of the Nerds,” in which many of the pioneers of the computer industry, including Paul Allen, were featured, you’ve got to check it out. Here is one place where you can find it :


10) Jamming with Friends:

Finally, here are a few of my favorites—-Paul Allen performing in concert through the years, just being a regular guy, having a good time and playing some pretty decent guitar rifts besides!


Here he is hamming it up with his band:


And here is a bearded version of Paul Allen in 1995, having a great time performing with some good friends:

So maybe this post isn’t “Evri”-thing you wanted to know about Paul Allen—

in fact, you can find that here:


But it’s still fun to see Allen in candid mode. :-)_________________________________________________________________________________

BTW—I know I’ve been away for awhile.

I’ve been a little sidetracked lately, doing some serious cyberspace exploration with my mini-pc, a Flipstart, and I’ve been having just too much fun with it to stop by.   But I’ll be back soon, I promise, with more six degrees connections, and a list of cool sites and other things I’ve discovered lately along the way.

Stay tuned…..



“…All my life I’ve wanted to see the day when men would conquer space and explore the planets—and I wanted to take part in it. I don’t have to tell you how that feels…”

From Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo” p.23



Escaping from earth will not always be automatically expensive; contrary to the impression created by a Saturn launch, the energy needed to reach space is remarkably small…..Commercial space flight is now beginning to be technologically feasible and will soon become economically viable.”

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

From the Foreword to Dan Linehan’s “SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History”



“Tourism is the first market for the new spaceflight industry, as thousands of people with the dream to see the earth from space for themselves sign up for rides on suborbital spaceships, which will become increasingly affordable.”

From the book “Rocketeers” by Michael Belfiore



Space travel was exciting to any kid growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen was no exception. Like millions of American kids, Allen followed the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and recalled the excitement he felt when the television cart was wheeled into his classroom so that he and fellow students could view the historic events on a black and white TV. Science fiction books fascinated him, like Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo” which told the story of a group of kids who built their own spaceship; and a visit to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair offered a simulated rocket journey into space in the world’s first “Spacearium.” 

As a kid, Allen built dozens of model rockets and even tried his hand at building a homemade rocket of his own out of an old lawn chair (it melted:-).  And he was awed by science fiction stories that made the big screen, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he saw at Seattle’s local Cinerama theater.


So when brilliant inventor Burt Rutan introduced the idea of a low cost suborbital spacecraft, Paul Allen was very, very interested.


The relationship between the billionaire and the inventor began with a different business venture, but by the Spring of 2000, when Burt Rutan felt that his idea was ready for funding, he asked for a meeting with Paul Allen and told him about the spaceship he was designing. Allen responded with a handshake and an enthusiastic—“Let’s do it.”



“”I always had in the back of my mind, would I ever have the opportunity to do something in a space-related initiative? Allen recalled. “And so when the SpaceShipOne opportunity came up, I was very excited to pursue it.”

From Dan Linehan’s “SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History”(p. 19)



And the rest is history. The Allen-funded SpaceShipOne soared into space, and on October 4th, 2004, it became the first privately funded spaceship to make it into suborbital space twice in two weeks with an equivalent weight of 3 people, thereby winning the Ansari X-prize. It also thereby effectively jumpstarted the commercial space travel industry, something which had previously been thought so impossible that it had a “giggle factor.”


On that October 4th date, back in mission control, as SpaceShipOne was still floating in space, Paul Allen shook another hand—the hand of billionaire Richard Branson—who purchased the rights to Allen’s spaceship development program for his own commercial “spaceline,” Virgin Galactic.  The handshake symbolized the next great step in the commercial space travel industry—as “Rocketeers” author Michael Belfiore commented, “That moment marked the end of the beginning of the commercial space age.”


And on July 28, 2008, just a couple of weeks ago, the reality of private space travel—of ordinary people becoming astronauts and sailing off into space—just got closer with the unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s mothership, Eve, otherwise known as WhiteKnightTwo.  The WhiteKnightTwo, a beautifully designed carrier aircraft, will be launching rocket SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts into suborbital space in the near future.


In fact, if you have a couple hundred thousand dollars (or A LOT of Virgin Atlantic frequent flier miles)*, and a dream to be an astronaut, you can sign up to be a passenger on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight right now:





and for “Virgin Atlantic Frequent Fliers”*


Apparently, a large number of people have already signed up.






It’s all pretty exciting when you think about it, and it had me wondering what space travel might look like, say, 50 years from now.  So just for fun, I thought I’d write a story about an astronaut from the year 2058, who is also, since spaceships are so common at that time, basically just an ordinary businessman on his way home from work.


Just one more thought… case you hadn’t guessed, this story is NOT real. And one more thing—if you see Microsoft Co-founder,  Paul Allen’s name (and related stuff) pop up in the story, remember that this IS the Six Degrees of Paul Allen site…….. 🙂






Businessman Bo Nunez stepped inside the gleaming spaceship and trudged wearily down the narrow aisle leading to the first class section of the 8 pm Virgin Galactic Transport Shuttle. It had been a long day.


He looked forward to getting home. Although the commute to his condo on the Rutan Community Moon Colony was a long one—roughly an hour’s journey—he did not regret the purchase of his new dream home there last year in 2057.  The price was admittedly astronomical, but it was a nice little community—the amenities were unparalleled, and the views—well, the views were literally out of this world.


He sank down into his plush leather seat, buckled his seat belt and settled in for the ride home. Donning headphones, he began to listen to a song he designed last night on his computer with the help of the latest Drumcore software. He had become a pro at mixing tracks—and by blending a little U2, Blues and drum solos from his favorite artists, he had come up with a pretty decent song. In fact, the recording would have been perfect were it not for the vocalist. He chuckled as he heard his own voice. “OK, so I guess I won’t quit my day job,” he laughed.


He pulled his Kiha* out of his shirt pocket and gently set it down on the pull-down table in front of him. Immediately the surface of the table began to shimmer and ripple as if it were made of water. Multicolored tropical fish appeared to swim deep into the surface of the table and across the screen in 3D, as the scene reflected the underwater beauty of Bo’s favorite dive spot in Palau. This was clearly his favorite screen saver, this underwater video that Bo took last summer, and it always put him in a good mood after a hard day’s work.


“Hello, Bo” said a soft, pleasant voice coming from the table. “Where do you want to go today?”


“To the moon, Alice!” he thought, remembering the ancient Jackie Gleason reruns that were so popular in the 2040’s. But instead he smiled and said:


“How about checking today’s headlines?”


Immediately the surface of the table changed to reveal the top stories and photos of the day. One headline in particular caught his eye:


“The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Changes Its Name.”

AP Seattle, Washington


“The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has announced that it is changing its name and its focus due to the recent development of the Cancer/HIV vaccine.  Since the vaccine was discovered a few years ago, these diseases have been effectively made obsolete in the civilized world.


The newly renamed Fred Hutchinson Research Center will now merge with neighboring charitable organizations; The Allen Institute for Brain Science, founded by Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen and the Gates Foundation, founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, to refocus its efforts and collaborate its resources in order to bring the vaccine, along with other recent Allen Institute cures for MS, MD and Alzheimer’s Disease, and the latest spinal cord regeneration treatment, to underdeveloped countries.


“We are extremely pleased and honored to be a part of this wonderful project,” stated Jo Allen Patton, chairman of the Allen Family Foundation. “We are grateful to the remarkable men and women who have developed breakthrough medicines that are now capable of defeating these devastating diseases, and we hope to continue to provide the funding necessary to bring these cures to every person who needs them in every corner of the world.”


Nunez paused for a moment to absorb the information. “Another scientific breakthrough from the Allen District of Seattle! What a place it must be!


“And Paul Allen—I’ve heard of that guy,” he thought. “I wonder what he’s doing now?”


Curious, Nunez did an EVRI  search and discovered that at 105 years old the Microsoft Co-founder had just cut his 4th best-selling rock album.


“So he finally broke down and released another set of songs,” Nunez thought. He remembered what terrific hits the first three albums had become nearly 20 years ago, but he had heard that Allen hesitated to issue another album.  It was important to him that people remembered him for more than just his music.


Right under that headline was an article about Allen and Gates:


“Dynamic Duo Strikes Again


People Weekly


‘Holy smokes, Batman!’  The Dynamic Duo is at it again, battling the forces of evil.


No, we’re not talking about ancient comic book superheroes, but about an unbeatable team of philanthropists named Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Not quite a century ago, when the pair was barely out of their teens, they wrote a language that changed the world, and founded a company that is still one of the most successful organizations in the history of business.


And now they’ve joined forces again to take on a new villain—-disease.


Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have been in the disease vanquishing business since the turn of the century. Through their efforts with the Gates Foundation, the disease Malaria, a horrible scourge that plagued millions of people many years ago has long gone the way of Microsoft’s early competitors. But Gates has begun to tackle other dark forces and has taken on a new partner to do it—his old Microsoft partner, Paul Allen.


Allen has been on a disease fighting mission of his own for many years. The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a charitable organization that he founded in 2003, has made major breakthroughs recently in combating a number of debilitating illnesses that have plagued the world. The Allen Institute has historically ventured into a number of research projects such as the brain map and spinal cord map, and has published its findings for free, assisting researchers to find cures for diseases in their particular fields. Recognizing that this kind of information-sharing leads to scientific breakthroughs that benefit everyone, other researchers have followed suit, and the speed of progress in fighting these infirmities has taken off like lightning in recent years, most recently leading to cures.


The Gates’ will now join The Allen Family Foundation and the recently renamed Fred Hutchinson Research Center in bringing these cures for a number of diseases, among them Alzheimer’s, MD, Multiple Sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as the recently discovered Cancer/HIV Vaccine and Spinal Regeneration and Regrowth treatments, to countries that currently do not have access to this kind of medicine.


May their battle against disease take them to the ends of the earth and to the farthest reaches of space; or, in the words of another Superhero,


‘To Infinity and Beyond!’ “




This was great news. Bo remembered a friend of his from years ago, a good friend whom he’d lost…….”I wish those cures had been around earlier,” he thought to himself.


He was deep in thought when the seat belt light clicked off and nudged him out of his reverie. Bo looked up from the screen on the table in front of him and gazed out the window. What a view! He could never get used to how beautiful the earth looked from up here.


Some of the passengers had taken off their seat belts and were floating around the room, laughing and doing somersaults, and noisily calling each other over to the many windows of the spacecraft to check out the spectacular scenery. When the cabin was full, this was considered bad manners—-this bouncing around the room, sometimes bumping into people who just wanted to get home. But tonight, perhaps because of the late flight, the cabin was nearly empty, and there was plenty of room to move around.


As many times as he had made this trip, Bo could not resist feeling completely thrilled by this part of the ride. The feeling of weightlessness made him feel, well, even a little giddy, like a kid riding on a roller coaster for the first time.


But today for some reason, he was overwhelmed by the feeling.  Maybe it was the stress of the day or the good news he’d just read. Or maybe he had just taken it all for granted for too long. Whatever the reason, today he couldn’t resist taking off his seat belt and joining the floaters.  As he released the latch of his seat belt and floated away from the restraint, suddenly Bo Nunez forgot the seriousness of the day he had just had. He forgot his age, his business, his life back on earth. For this moment, none of those things mattered. He was 10 years old again—free—and if he wanted to jump off of his first class leather seat and bounce around the walls of this luxury craft in his business suit, he could care less how it looked to anyone else.


The seat belt sign came on again, much too soon it seemed, and he belted himself in once more for the lightening-fast ride home. He was breathless, elated from his venture climbing around the cabin and he felt a little like a school kid who had misbehaved in class and had gotten away with it.  By the time the Virgin Galactic Shuttle descended upon the Lunar Spaceport and touched down on the surface of the moon, Bo Nunez was in a very, very good mood.




Just for fun…so that means that none of this is real. But impossible? Maybe not …… J




Check out these links…….

Dan Linehan’s SpaceShipOne: an Illustrated History:

Michael Belfiore’s “Rocketeers”


“Rocketship Galileo” Robert Heinlein

Other References:
Remarks upon winning the Robert J. Collier Trophy from Allen’s website

Other Links:

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Ready for Trips into Space::

Upcoming conference on what’s next in the tourism industry:


Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne:


Condos on the moon in 50 years?

(What about 15?)


Institutes mentioned as they are in 2008: 

The Allen Institute for Brain Science:


Allen Institute Spinal Cord Map:


Allen Institute Brain Atlas:


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:


 Other Stuff Mentioned:









The Paul Allen Band:




*(BTW, I have no idea what they’re up to—just took a guess….:-)


Microsoft’s “Surface” 



SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo Videos and more:


 Inside SpaceShipTwo

 From the Discovery Channel and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions “Black Sky”   (Mike Melville)

 SpaceShipTwo Demo

SpaceShipOne winning the X-Prize (Brian Binnie)

 Space Travel future

 Virgin Galactic SpacePort

 Virgin Galactic video narrated by Richard Branson

 Animation of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo from a year ago

 Private industry moves to take over space race

Honeymoon in Space, Anyone? 🙂


To: William Gates

Chairman at Microsoft

Co-Chair at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dear Mr. Gates,

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I haven’t yet received my invitation to your LinkedIn Network.  No biggie—-I know you’ve been busy lately—but it’s just that I’m sure we know a lot of the same people…..

Well, o.k., maybe I know OF a lot of the same people whom you know, but same difference, right? 🙂

Anyway, in the meantime, I thought I’d take a crack at the excellent question that you posted on your LinkedIn site:

“How can we do more to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology?”*4ITS

I thought I’d start out by answering your question with a question:

What  were the things that inspired you and your friend Paul Allen when you were young? And just as importantly, what factors helped you both to become successful in those fields later in life?

You obviously know the answers better than I do, but I can take an educated guess based on your life, and turn it into advice for this new generation of young people:

1) Give them a vision:

Do you remember the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair?

I’d bet a dollar that going to that Fair was a profoundly inspiring experience for you (and for Paul Allen too) when you were children living in the city of Seattle. Remember The World of Science and The World of Tomorrow?  You could walk right into those exhibits and experience the possibilities the future had to offer in a powerful, palpable way. You could stand next to a rocket designed by NASA or ride in a “Spacearium”–a virtual space ship and see the “stars.” You could witness “Space Age Communications” at Bell Telephone’s pavilion, or get a glimpse of how future computers could connect libraries together and make information accessible to everyone.

From p. 20 of the Seattle World’s Fair 1962 official program:

“The experience is vivid. Shafts of color have illuminated another life—an easy, gracious, stimulating future beyond tomorrow’s tomorrow. Time itself has been compressed so that you could stand on the threshold of Century 21.”*1

The World’s Fair offered a profoundly real vision of what the future could be—it’s opportunities and responsibilities—a vision designed to inspire kids to dream big and do great things. And you and Paul Allen and a number of Visionaries took that dream and ran with it, building the real “World of Tomorrow.”

2) Give them access to cutting tools and information.

Remember the Lakeside computer room–the teletype machine that connected to a computer at CCC? Wasn’t it remarkable for kids who were barely into their teens—12 and 14 year olds—to have access to something that was so cutting edge for its time? I wonder how many adults grasped the magnitude of what was being done in that little room; what you were learning and how futuristic it all was? Wasn’t it because you had free reign with that equipment—that you could play with it and explore what you could do with it—at least a part of the reason that you could envision its future potential? Wasn’t it a part of the reason why a few years later you could call up Ed Roberts at a time when few people even owned an Altair, let alone found a use for one, and confidently tell him you could write a language for his pc?

3. Give them exposure to cutting edge mentors:

I know that you had a number of really remarkable teachers at Lakeside and and had several other mentors back in those days, but I’ll mention just one of them as an example. Do you remember Steve Russell, the guy who wrote the first videogame, Spacewar?  He and Dick Gruen had just come to C-Cubed from Stanford’s SAIL  (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab) program, which was involved with a number of research projects including, of course,  artificial intelligence.*2

That was a pretty cutting edge concept for its time. And although I heard that those guys never spoon-fed you any information (Paul Andrews called them “Zen Masters” because in response to your questions they would hand you and Paul Allen another manual so you could figure it out for yourselves 🙂 ),* 3  I imagine that working side by side with people who understood an area that most people had no clue even existed—guys who were dabbling on the cutting edge of technology—had an influence on you and Paul Allen, didn’t it?


So how do you give large numbers of young people access to creative tools and mentors?

Via the Internet, of course!

I have it on good authority that if you or Paul Allen or Steve Ballmer or Bono (or pretty much anyone from the X-Box team 🙂 ) were to offer a few insights via Youtube or live webcast etc., young people would be there in a heartbeat—watching and listening, eagerly absorbing what you have to say. 

The communication options out there today via the Internet offer a myriad of mentoring opportunities and an easy way to reach out to young people and impart new ideas, provide virtual communities, make contacts or share information.

And as far as creative tools go, maybe on a widespread level you could impart basic information—do a video on how to write a simple program, for example. On a more individualized level, one idea might be to pose a problem and then offer resources to the kids who present the best ideas and want to work on solutions to solve it—sort of an X-Prize-like contest where acceptance into the contest is competitive, but once accepted there are sponsors who can help the entrants to bring those ideas to fruition.

Then of course there are the science clubs, bowls, fairs and other kinds of contests already in place that you could support—not even necessarily financially, but through finding ways to keep everyone connected and facilitating connections to mentors in the various scientific fields.

4) Reward Goodness:

“Of course, not all challenges spring from technology. Many of the toughest problems we face today; hunger, the environment, population growth and violence desperately need people who want to attack these problems and make a difference in the lives of others.”*4

That quote was from Paul Allen in a speech he made to the WSU graduating class of 1999. And you have echoed the same sentiment—that we need people who can address the urgent problems that our world is facing today such as poverty, disease, food and energy shortages and environmental issues.*5

See… Bill Gates’ Speech at the World Economic Forum on Creative Capitalism

As you said, the world of today is better than in years past. The leaders of today include a number of tech wizards and visionaries whose creative ideas and efforts have made the world a better place. And as you know, the youth of today are our world’s greatest resource and its best hope for the future.  Nurture those young people who share a vision of a better world and who come up with new ideas that address some of its challenges.

Inspire everyone, but focus your resources and mentoring efforts on them. If your vision of creative capitalism is truly to become a widespread business ethic, it is the youth of today who will embrace it and the next generation who will bring it to fruition. Seek out the kind of young people who share your vision, whom you want to be tomorrow’s leaders, and help them to get there through scholarships, internships, small business loans, other financial rewards, and of course, recognition.

5) Above all, don’t underestimate them just because they’re young.

As you know from experience, young people can accomplish a great deal!

Another Lakeside story…..

Do you remember Frank Peep from C-Cubed and ISI in your Lakeside days?* 6  A few years ago I asked him if he was surprised that kids as young as you and Paul Allen were could have accomplished so much. His response? A definite “No.” On the contrary, he was not at all surprised.

“Kids are fearless,” he said.

When the adults looked at those computers, they saw some really expensive equipment. When you kids looked at them, you saw a playground—a game, a challenge.  You wanted to play around with the system, test it out, explore its capabilities—which was exactly what you were supposed to do—you were hired to find the bugs in the system so those problems could be fixed. 

You guys weren’t afraid of anything, so you took risks and crossed boundaries and did things that the higher-ups—the adults—said could never be done. It was because of your youth, not just in spite of it, that you were able to accomplish so much.

Kids are too young to be afraid, too naive to know that something is impossible and too inexperienced to believe that the way it’s always been done is the only way to do it.

As you said, “Young people aren’t as constrained by traditional ways of thinking. They haven’t yet completely absorbed the “right” way to do things, so they are free to pursue ideas that seem impossible to those of us with more experience.” ,
With the Right Skills, Young People will Create More Innovations

So challenge them, give them a few creative tools and see what they come up with. You never know what could happen…..

So there you go…..answer #4 gazillion to your Linked In question—hope it helps!

…..And about that Linked In invite—no hurry or anything.  I’ll just be sitting here, waiting by my computer……. :-)*

*….actually, my computer will be sitting here in my pocket, waiting by me. I just bought a Flipstart—Yeah!! 🙂 But that’s another story for another time….. 🙂



1 Seattle World’s Fair 1962 Official Souvenir Program, 1961 ACME Publications

2. “Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented An Industry—and Made Himself the Richest Man in America.” by Paul Andrews and Stephen Manes. 1994;   p. 32–

3) “Gates” Ibid. at p. 30

4) Paul Allen’s WSU Speech to 1999 graduating class upon receiving the Regent’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The WSU site used to have an audio of the entire speech, which was originally aired via satellite uplink from the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. (Paul Allen’s Trail Blazers were in the NBA Finals at the time.)

Also—I heard that Paul Allen just attended the TED conference:



so these very issues have been on his mind too lately. He has also tried to inspire young people in a number of ways in the past; for example, check out these links:


6) “Gates” Ibid. p. 40; Interview with Frank Peep, winter of 2004.

Just a quick note—

If you haven’t seen it already, you might want to check out Bill Gates’ awesome Keynote Speech at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last Sunday:


 Gates’ Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen was there too, supporting his old friend, sitting in the front row of the Palazzo Ballroom next to Viacom’s Philippe Dauman.

I’ve listed a few links to some first hand accounts of the CES show below. One reporter had a particularly interesting story, as he had the rare opportunity to talk to Allen before the show.

Apparently Allen has lost a lot of weight recently, and when Seattle Times’ Brier Dudley remarked on it, Allen said this: 

“I’ve got a trainer.”

I thought Allen was just stating a fact, and that he had actually hired a trainer (Matthew McConaughey, maybe?)—until I saw the Gates video. 

But now I think—no kidding—that he was cracking a joke.

(Watch the video and you’ll get it.)

I’ve heard through the grapevine that Allen has a good sense of humor—a “dry wit.” Maybe Dudley caught a glimpse of it Sunday night.

And if that’s true, it’s not a bad joke…..not too bad, anyway…:-)

Allen has a few good reasons to be in a joking mood right now.  Over the holidays he was celebrating in style at St. Bart’s,  jamming on his guitar aboard his 414 ft. yacht, Octopus with rockers Jon Bon Jovi and Robbie Robertson.


And he had company. Celebrity guests at his Octopus party included Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Billy Joel with wife Katie Lee, Harvey Weinstein and bride Georgina Chapman, Penny Marshall, Tom Freston, Linda Evangelista and Peter Morton, financier George Soros, Rebecca DeMornay, LeeLee Sobieski, Vivi Nevo and Ziyi Zhang, Charles Simonyi and Martha Stewart, Lorne Michaels, and Antonio “LA” Reid of Island Def Jam Records.

Afterwards Allen came back to Seattle to watch his football team, the Seahawks, score another big win, leaving them in the running for a Super Bowl bid again this year. Check out this great video of Allen and Seahawks fans after the game:

Not to be outdone, Allen’s Portland Trailblazers scored a victory the very same day, and owner Allen, who had arrived straight from the NFL game to support his NBA team, was again cheered on.


So things have been going pretty well for Allen lately.

Here’s hoping for at least one more joke before the Consumer Electronics Show is over.


CES Links:

So what is Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen’s connection to Life, the Universe and Everything?  

Well, to begin with, it’s not through “Life Itself” although he is linked to the author of a book by that name.*1 See…  
And it’s not through the Universe, although Paul Allen built a spaceship (and launched an industry) in order to traverse it. *2

    And it’s not even through “Everything,” although Alanis Morissette was one of the artists who opened Paul Allen’s music museum, the Experience Music Project in June of 2000.   

So what’s the connection? Perhaps the best way to answer the second question is to start with the first. So:  Q: What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?  A:  (To quote Google Calculator:) 


The answer to life, the universe and everything = 42

    More about calculator.,_the_Universe,_and_Everything

 42—-The answer to life, the universe and everything—comes from Douglas Adam’s series, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” In the story, a “simple answer” to the Ultimate Question is requested from the computer “Deep Thought,” which was specially designed for this very purpose.  After 7 ½ million years and much anticipation, the computer arrives at its disappointing conclusion— “42.”


“Forty two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.” [2] ( from Wikipedia)  

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy began as a BBC Radio 4 series which first aired in March of 1978. The story has since been transformed into a series of best selling novels, a TV series, a record album and computer game and several stage adaptations, including a movie which was released in 2005.   

So what is Paul Allen’s connection to Life, the Universe and Everything?

Let’s start with Allen’s connection to the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.  Paul Allen is connected to writer Douglas Adams, who was sometimes affectionately referred to as “DNA,” because Adams and Allen were both portrayed in the movie “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires.” See…   and  and   

Douglas Adams also worked on Monte Python’s Flying Circus with Eric Idle, who has been a guest at Paul Allen’s parties. See… 

And through the Hitchhiker movie, Paul Allen is also connected to Kevin Bacon—-

(through John Malkovich, who starred in Hitchhiker as well as “Queen’s Logic” with Kevin Bacon)


to Scarlett Johansson, of  The Perfect Score—–

 (through Hitchhiker’s Zooey Deschanel).

See this Gap commercial: 

 Finally, “Deep Thought,” the computer that took 7 ½ million years to come up with the answer “42” from the movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” has an IBM counterpart by the same name that plays a mean game of chess. 


  According to Wikipedia,   IBM’s “Deep Thought” was named after Douglas Adam’s fictional AI computer.    (And IBM is linked to Paul Allen because IBM played a key role in the history of Microsoft’s rise to fame. See… )   

Paul Allen has invested in his own kind of “Deep Thought” computer—the  “Digital Aristotle” — “an application capable of answering novel questions and solving advanced problems in a wide range of scientific disciplines.” 

Whether Allen’s Digital Aristotle will come up with a better answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything” than “Deep Thought” did remains to be seen. J *2.5  

But since “the answer” is 42, then maybe the real question is this: 

How is Paul Allen connected to the number 42?   

Well, let’s see… 

Star Trek, Production #42  “The Trouble with Tribbles,” was written by David Gerrold, an award-winning science fiction writer who started his career in 1966 as a college student by submitting an unsolicited story outline for the television series, Star Trek. He was invited to submit several premises, and the one chosen by Star Trek was filmed as “The Trouble with Tribbles.” (from Wikipedia)     Gerrold is a featured sci fi writer at Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, Washington. 

Jupiter 42  Paul Allen’s friend, Gina Gershon, starred in the little known animated series “Tripping the Rift” about 5 misfits who live on the starship Jupiter 42.  


Vertigo 42   And Vertigo42, in the building Tower 42 in London, England (pictured on an episode of the BBC Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy)   is an exclusive London hotspot. Equally hot and exclusive is Paul Allen and Dave Stewart’s Hospital, which opened in Covent Garden in the same city just a few years ago.  The Hospital website     Tower 42 (Vertigo 42)

  42 years ago,     In 1965, Paul Allen’s parents enrolled him in the seventh grade at Lakeside school, where he met lifelong friend and future business partner, Bill Gates and began his life-changing fascination with computers. 

42 Canines:    Allen’s family show dog, Keira, had 42 teeth.

(No, I didn’t count….. 🙂   See.. 


BTW, why 42?

All sorts of theories have been floating around about it, but according to Douglas Adams himself,

           The answer to this is very simple.  It was a joke.  It had to be
        a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that
        one.  Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are
        all complete nonsense.  I sat at my desk, stared into the
        garden and thought `42 will do'.  I typed it out.  End of


So those are the answers……but, while we’re on the subject, what about Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen’s connection to Life IN the Universe (and everything…)? 

Funny you should ask, because a week or so ago, Allen and SETI unveiled the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California.  The ATA is a giant array of telescopes designed to explore the heavens in search of natural and unnatural phenomena in the universe.

From The New York Times:*3

”When the Allen Telescope Array, as it is known, is complete, it will consist of 350 antennas, each 20 feet, or 6 meters, in diameter. Using the separate antennas as if they were one giant dish, radio astronomers will be able to map vast regions of the sky cheaply and efficiently. The array will help search for new phenomena like black holes eating each other and so-called dark galaxies without stars, as well as extend the search for extraterrestrial radio signals a thousandfold, to include a million nearby stars over the next two decades. On Thursday, 42 of the antennas, mass-produced from molds and employing inexpensive telecommunications technology, were to go into operation.    “It’s like cutting the ribbon on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria,” said Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the Seti Institute in Mountain View, California, who pointed out that this was the first radio telescope ever designed specifically for the extraterrestrial quest. The telescope, named for Paul Allen, who provided $25 million in seed money, is a joint project of the Radio Astronomy Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Seti Institute.

“If they do find something, they’re going to call me up first and say we have a signal,” Allen said in an interview, adding, “So far the phone hasn’t rung.” Describing himself as “a child of the ’50s, the golden age of space exploration and science fiction,” Allen, a founder of Microsoft, said he first got interested in supporting the search for extraterrestrial intelligence after a conversation 12 years ago with Carl Sagan, the Cornell University astronomer and exuberant proponent of cosmic wonder. When the idea later arose to build a telescope array on the cheap, using off-the-shelf satellite dish technology and advanced digital signal processing, Allen was intrigued. “If you know anything about me,” he said, “you know I’m a real enthusiast for new unconventional approaches to things.” *3


Over and over again you can see that Paul Allen has a soft spot for the impossible dream, the quixotic quest, the science project that crosses the boundaries of current possibility.

Whether it’s saving a football team or an old theater where he used to see 2001 A Space Odyssey, or building a space ship to reach the stars, Allen rescues the underdog, tilts at windmills and sometimes ends up with the last laugh on projects that started out with a giggle factor.


 Inspired by his love of science fiction (Allen also founded a Science Fiction Museum in Seattle) and SETI enthusiasts such as Arthur C. Clarke, Allen became involved in supporting SETI when his friend Carl Sagan asked him to help keep the SETI program alive after the Government decided to stop funding it. In 2001 he joined with the University of California, Berkeley, and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute to install a set of 42 dish antennas in Hat Creek, California.    On October 11, the first phase of the ATA was put into operation.


From Time Magazine:*4

“The so-called Allen Telescope Array (ATA), which was scheduled to go live on Oct. 11, does what conventional radio telescopes do.  That is to say, it listens to the faint whisper of radio signals from celestial objects like quasars, which make up the collective voice of the universe.  But the ATA can listen on a private line too—the one on which suspiciously regular pulses emanating from the vicinity of sunlike stars would be carried. That’s how our broadcasts would sound to beings out there, and that’s how their broadcasts—if they exist—would sound to us.”*4

   Which leaves us with the question…. Is there really intelligent life out there in the Universe?  

 According to Paul Allen….  “It’s the longshot of longshots, but if we did hear a signal from another civilization, that would be world-changing.” *5 

  In any case, if there isn’t life somewhere out there in the incredibly vast, seemingly illimitable universe, then, to quote Ellie Arroway from the movie, “Contact,”   “…it’s an awful waste of space.”



One final thing——

In case you missed it, when Paul Allen flipped the switch on the Allen Telescope Array on October 11, 2007, guess how many of the 350  20ft radio telescopes were activated?

 42, of course…… J

Stay tuned for more 6 degrees connections…. 



Footnotes:*1 Sir Francis Crick, author of “Life Itself.” co-discovered the Double Helix
in 1953, (the year Paul Allen was born), with scientist James Watson.

Watson  is a friend of Paul Allen’s.   Not only was he a guest at Allen’s St. Petersburg party, but he is also currently a Senior Advisor for Paul Allen’s Institute for Brain Science. ,  

* 2. NASA is asking the same questions…   (NASA Seeks Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything June 2, 05, news service Jeff Hecht)

*2.25 Adams, who died unexpectedly in 2001, was well-loved by his fans.   See…  Htichhiker’s guide review   

*2.5 Perhaps some of Allen’s latest web intelligence Ventures, including Twine or Hypertext Solutions, could do better as well ….:-)

  *3 “New telescope array to listen to the universe for signs of life”
By Dennis Overbye The New York Times
Thursday, October 11, 2007

*4.   Time Magazine online  “Looking Up” by Jeffrey Kluger and Michael D. Lemonick ,9171,1670525,00.html

Excerpt from Time article:  “I’m someone who likes to invent what the future of science and technology looks like,” Allen says. Grandiose maybe, except that he and a Seattle school pal did that once before. The ATA could grow to 350 dishes, but it may not have to. If it gets us asking questions that go beyond the usual noise of the news, it has done its job even before its switch is thrown.”

*5.  Seattle Times “Allen’s Newest Venture for a Galaxy Far, Far Away” 



Everything you wanted to know about SETI but were afraid to ask….  

 Paul Allen’s Interview last week with Boing Boing…….

SETI webcam:

SETI webcam, Alternate View:

 (Just kidding—this is a clip from the movie, “Contact.” J)


Youtube Tutorial on SETI—great 6 part video 

1)  Edna Devore (2) Space Suits Space Craft Images (3)  Thomas Pierson (4) (CEO–SETI) Jill Tartar  Frank Drake (5) Darwin and Orchids  The Drake Equation (6)_   


 SETI History:  `Hello, Is Anyone Out There?’ Congress Thinks Not
Source: Morning Edition (NPR)
Date: 2/25/1994

Allen Telescope Array (early stages)

From a 2004 article about SETI: The ATA will be a general-purpose radio telescope that will provide fundamentally new measurements and insights into the density of the very early universe, the formation of stars, the magnetic fields in the interstellar medium, and a host of other applications of deep interest to astronomers. At the same time, this 21st Century radio telescope will also have the capability to search for possible signals from technologically advanced civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy.    Paul Allen: “I am very excited to be supporting one of the world’s most visionary efforts to seek basic answers to some of the fundamental questions about our universe and what other civilizations may exist elsewhere,” said Allen. “I am a big proponent of leveraging revolutionary technology and design and applying it to important problems in science. The developments taking place with this new instrument will not only enables us to realize a lot of bang for our research and development buck, but it will also change the landscape of how telescopes will be built in the future. An instrument of this magnitude, which will result in the expansion of our understanding of how the universe was formed, and how it has evolved, and our place therein, is the reason I am the primary supporter of its development, design and construction.”  


Some Great Links on the ATA:,9171,1670525,00.html

 Miscellaneous: Carl Sagan on Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence   Search for Life on other planets DYI channel
Hat Creek home video

Answers to The Six Degrees of Paul Allen Anniversary Contest 

 So the prizes didn’t jazz you, eh? C’mon, how many people do you know who have a Darth Vader Jump Drive? Oh well, I had to choose between giving out a Star Wars USB Drive or a new Xbox 360 Elite, and I knew that no one would want one of those, so….:-)

(But seriously, you might want to check out Dynamism’s site.  There are a few really cool items for sale including some sharp-looking futuristic sunglasses that double as a 50-inch plasma screen T.V. when connected to your video Ipod—well, something that feels like a 50-inch screen T.V., anyway—the “I-Theater” sunglasses are actually small enough to fold up and put in your pocket!   Or you could check out the  iTech Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard –why lug around a real keyboard when you can flash a virtual lighted keyboard and type on just about  anything? (see… and   ). Pretty cutting edge stuff, you know?  

 But anyway—let’s get back to the contest ….. I know you’re just dying to know the answers, so here they are!  


(1) MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) of Albuquerque, N.M. announced “The World’s First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models,” the Altair 8800 PC, on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics. Shortly afterwards, a couple of guys called MITS’ owner Ed Roberts and told him that they had a BASIC interpreter for his computer, the Altair.  One of them later went out to meet with Roberts, discovering on the plane that he and his partners had forgotten to write the loader for the program! He hastily finished writing the loader as he flew in to New Mexico and demonstrated the completed program, BASIC, at MITS headquarters to Ed Roberts and his staff. Fortunately the program worked, and Robert hired him as MITS Director of Software Development.  Who was he?  

Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.  Also— See Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews’ biography, “Gates; How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry—and Made Himself the Richest Man in America” pp.68—76. 

The story goes something like this…. Paul Allen and Bill Gates were friends who had worked with computers since high school. They had been following the development of microprocessors, and knew that they had tremendous potential.  One day Allen was walking across Harvard Square when he saw the headline of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics—“World’s First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models”—with a photo of an Altair computer on the cover.  

He knew that this was what he and Bill Gates, then a Harvard student,  were waiting for. The Altair was a computer with limited capabilities and no software—yet at the time it was a breakthrough machine—-other mainframe computers of the day were huge, expensive refrigerator-like contraptions—and here hobbyists had the exciting opportunity to own their own, affordable PC!  For 1975 it was like something out of a science fiction novel. 

Allen and Gates had never seen an Altair, but had designed a simulator for another business they had started together called Trafodata.  They knew it was possible, then, to design a software program for the Altair on a large PDP-10 computer.  Harvard just happened to have one of those, and Paul Allen took on the task of designing a simulator for the program they would be writing for the Altair. Bill Gates then started designing the Basic programming language itself. A third friend from Harvard, Monte Davidoff, worked on the math routines for the program.

Tall and bearded, Allen was the oldest-looking person in the group, so he was chosen to meet with MITS Director,  Ed Roberts to demonstrate the program the guys had invented. When Allen arrived at the Albuquerque airport, he expected to meet a professional in a business suit. But MITS director Ed Roberts was instead an earthy-looking guy who arrived in a pickup truck. Roberts’ company, MITS, was located in a dusty strip mall that also housed an office supply shop and a massage parlor. It was not exactly the Ritz. But Allen was not the only one who was surprised. Roberts was equally disconcerted when the software professional who was listed on Trafodata letterhead as  “President” of the company could not even afford the cost of an overnight stay at a local hotel!  Nonetheless, the next day, when the Altair had passed all of its memory tests and was ready for Allen’s program, the software that Allen and Gates wrote for the computer actually worked!

 Paul Allen returned home to greet his friend Bill Gates with a brand new Altair computer provided by MITS and a new title, “Vice President and Director of Software at MITS.”  

(2) The Rose Garden Arena, located at One Center Court in Portland, Oregon, opened its doors on October 12, 1995. The stadium, which is often used for concerts and other events, is the home of Portland’s professional basketball team, the Portland Trail Blazers. The guy who originally footed most of the $262 bill for the stadium also currently owns the Portland Trail Blazers. What is his name? 

 Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.  Allen purchased the Portland Trailblazers from Larry Weinberg in 1988 for $70 million dollars. The team was his first major purchase since Microsoft went public in 1986, and his first purchase of a professional sports team (though it wouldn’t be the last).  The team is still a favorite with Allen, who recently spent millions of dollars on new players this year in order to give the Blazers a winning edge in the upcoming season. 

 (3)  Seven tug boat crew members were plucked from icy seas off Port Alfred a couple of days ago in a dramatic sea rescue involving the luxury super yacht, the 414ft. Octopus. The maritime drama started at around 2pm on 8/23/07 when the tug boat, called Douala Tide, mysteriously sank 31 nautical miles off Port Alfred in heavy seas. The Octopus was one of the first ships on the scene and managed to rescue seven crew members of the tug. Who owns the Octopus?  

Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.  Allen owns the megayacht Octopus, which was at one time the largest privately owned yacht in the world. Allen was reportedly not on board at the time of the rescue but the crew members of his ship were the heroes of the day when they saved the lives of seven people during a violent storm near Port Alfred, South Africa. The 414 ft yacht crew responded to a distress call that was sent out to whomever was nearby, and Allen’s ship was large enough to withstand seas so heavy that rescue teams could not come close to the area  for several hours. 

 (4) The Seattle Seahawks football team was purchased in 1988 by real estate developer Ken Behring.  Eight years later, when Behring decided that he wanted to move the team to Los Angeles— much to the chagrin of Seahawks fans—another guy stepped in and eventually bought the team, thereby keeping it in Seattle. (For fun, check out this article from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer written in 1996: “SOS: Seahawks Mess Not About You” by Laura Vecsey. ( )  In 2002 the new owner helped build a new stadium in Seattle for the team called Qwest Field. In 2006, this same owner took the Seahawks to SuperBowl XL. Who was he? 

 Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.  If you have a chance, read Laura Vecsey’s editorial (above), written at a time when saving the Seahawks and keeping them in Seattle was a Quixotic dream held by a few  diehard fans. In 1996, SOS—the Save Our Seahawks group  who showed up to meet the players on their expectedly brief return to Seattle—were thought of as the “poor betrayed fans, who go down fighting like Don Quixote against the windmill.”    Enter Seattle’s Clark Kent, Paul Allen.   Although Allen’s father played football, Allen bought the team before he became an avid football fan, more than anything else as a favor to his hometown. The postscript for this story is that Allen purchased the Seahawks and then helped to build a stadium, eventually taking the team to the Superbowl. Check out this video of Allen raising the 12th Man flag at the NFC championship game the year the Seahawks went to the Superbowl. As Paul Allen appeared before a packed stadium crowd at that game, the marquee flashed “He Saved Our Seahawks” and the fans cheered so loudly that it shook Qwest Field Arena.  What a moment! 

(5)  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the world. The Foundation was established in the year 2000 and is dedicated to “bringing innovations in health and learning to the global community.”   Who founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? 

 Answer: Bill and Melinda Gates. 


What the Gates’ are doing is truly heroic. See this excerpt from Time Magazine:  

“Every year malaria kills 1 million people—most of them African children under age 5. When Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 50, and his wife Melinda, 41, were looking for ways to give away their prodigious wealth, they assumed that such monumental problems were being worked on. Instead, Melinda says, they found a “vacuum that does need to be stepped into.” Step they did: the Gates Foundation now provides more than a third of the world’s entire malaria-research funding, and it’s paying off. The most effective drug to treat the disease, naturally occurring artemisinin, is in devastatingly short supply. But last month Gates-funded scientists announced that they had created the technology to manufacture artemisinic acid synthetically. Within five years, the cost of a lifesaving supply is expected to drop from $2.40 to 25 cents. Lead researcher Jay Keasling says it would not have been possible without a $43 million Gates grant. “I had companies call me and say, ‘This is great, but we can’t give you any money. We can’t make a profit on this,'” he says. But even if millions are saved from malaria, there will be more diseases and more death. The Gateses’ most profound influence has been to change expectations. Their belief that every life should have equal value, backed by their $29 billion endowment in the foundation, has injected hope not only into global health but also into their other priorities: public education, public libraries and at-risk families. The couple demands from grantees the same relentless focus on results expected of Microsoft employees and takes away the classic excuse for failure: not enough money. They have inspired others—from medical students, who are entering global-health fields in unprecedented numbers, to governments, which are putting billions into Gates initiatives. Says Jimmy Carter: “This is the most important foundation in the world.” 

(6) This famous photo, taken in 1978, depicts the early Microsoft crew. 

See…  One of the co-founders, a young looking guy with blonde hair is seated on the far lower left of the photo. His co-founder is seated on the far lower right sporting a beard and long hair.  Who is the co-founder seated on the right in this picture?  

 Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.   Often this photo is depicted with the caption: “Would you have invested?” These 11 early Microsoft employees look more like they belonged in a commune than as a part of one of the most successful companies of all time.  But behind the long hair and beards were the people who laid the foundation for the founders’ vision of  a “computer on every desk and in every home all running Microsoft software.”  

(7) Vulcan Productions (,  an independent film company, has produced a number of movies since it was founded including the Emmy winning documentary, PBS’ “Rx For Survival” and the Peabody Award winning “Black Sky,” a documentary about SpaceShipOne, the spaceship that won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004. Who is the Chairman of Vulcan Productions?  

Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen (are you beginning to see a pattern here :-)???


(8)  This computer mogul is also a rock musician who has performed with numerous musicians including Dave Stewart, Dan Aykroyd, Carlos Santana, Little Feat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mick Jagger and Peter Gabriel.  In 1999 he cut an album with his rock band, Grown Men.  On the album, special thanks were given to Dave Stewart, Peter Gabriel, Dan Aykroyd and the crews of the Meduse and the Charade,  two megayachts that this guy owned at the time.  He most recently performed with Spinal Tap at former Vice President Al Gore’s Live Earth Concert at Wembley Stadium in London. Who is he? 

 Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.


Paul on guitar

Paul Performing at the Recent Live Earth ConcertScroll sideways to video #58 Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom” (You’ll have to wait a moment for the menu to appear—there’s a commercial that appears first. The menu is on the left…..”play clip” segment 57-63.) and

Paul’s “Grown Men” Rock Band Site: 

(9) This tech wizard is connected within six degrees to a number of famous people including Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Princess Grace Kelly, photographer Annie Leibovitz, writers Truman Capote, Ian Fleming, John Steinbeck and Mark Twain, President Franklin Pierce, artists Georgia O’Keefe and Pablo Picasso, statesman Nelson Mandela and his Council of Elders, Former President Bill Clinton, scientists Carl Sagan and James Watson, musician Paul McCartney, director Martin Scorsese and actors Tom Hanks, Eric Idle and Scarlett Johansson—of The Perfect Score.  What is his name? (Hint: he wrote PC BASIC).  

Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen. (See previous posts of this blog)  

(10) In 1999, Seattle P-I’s movie critic William Arnold wrote this article about the revival of a nearly demolished theater in Seattle called the Cinerama. Fill in the name of the person he’s talking about at the end of the quote–( eg. Who saved the Cinerama?): 

“It may sound like shameless hype, but there’s no other way to say this: the survival and restoration of Seattle’s Cinerama Theater in the late 1990s is simply one of the greatest success stories in the whole checkered history of movie theater preservation in America. When the theater’s 35-year lease ran out in March 1997, no exhibitor was even vaguely interested in the once-luxurious movie showcase at Fourth Avenue and Lenora Street. The Seattle media wrote its obituary, and no sane observer gave the naive, grass-roots “Save-the- Cinerama” campaign the slightest chance of success. But two years later, the Cinerama is not only still standing, it’s undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation, and will reopen April 23 as the most technologically advanced, state-of-the-art cinema, not just in Seattle and the Northwest, but arguably on the entire planet.  A year ago, in what was supposed to be the Cinerama’s final week, I took a last, sad tour of the long-neglected facility — cringing at the water-damaged walls, crumbling screen, broken seats and dilapidated fixtures that seemed almost beyond repair. Late last month, I wandered through the same space and found it had been not just lovingly restored to its full 1963 glory, but transformed into a kind of nirvana for movie lovers — a theater so chock-full of extras and innovations that it’s hard to list them all……….”   See…

Answer: Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.

The story of the Cinerama goes like this: (Excerpt from… “Eight Ways to Save a Cinema” by Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle)

”In the late ’90s, Paul Allen was renting a video when he saw a petition
to save Seattle’s Cinerama Theatre from being razed to make way for
downtown development. The Microsoft mogul remembered the theater from its 1960s
heyday, and he loved its giant screen. He signed the petition.

And then — you see where this is going — he bought that whole block
of Seattle, including the theater. Through his holding company, he spent
millions of dollars to restore the Cinerama to its groovy glory, complete
with retro mohair seats. At the same time, he updated the
single-screen, 808-seat theater for the digital age, making it one of the highest-tech
movie theaters in the world.
Allen hooked up with AMC Theatres, and the Cinerama now operates as a
first-run movie house, the kind of place where people line up to see
Snakes on a Plane. Seattle Weekly readers regularly vote it the city’s best

Does Allen think he’ll make his money back? Jason Hunke, Allen’s
spokesman, says the theater operates at a profit and the mogul may develop an
empty parking lot next door. But Allen’s investment was about saving the
theater, not about wringing the maximum return on his money.  The Cinerama, Hunke
says, “is his gift to the city.” 

Seattle’s Clark Kent strikes again!!!


So those are the answers to the Six Degrees of Paul Allen Anniversary Quiz!  When it all comes down to it, this was not such a hard test after all, was it? 🙂  

 Now to start on this next year’s Six Degrees links to Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen, including Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, architect Frank Gehry, the Antikythera Mechanism and The Earl of Sandwich…..Stay Tuned!   (In the meantime, “Darth” and I will be going…..:-)

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