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Paul Gardner Allen (born January 21, 1953) is an American investor and philanthropist who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and is one of the wealthiest people in the world with a personal wealth of US$12.7 billion as of 2010. He is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., which manages his business and philanthropic efforts. Allen also has a multi-billion dollar investment portfolio which includes technology companies such as Evri and Gist, real estate holdings, and stakes in other technology, media, and content companies. Allen also owns professional sports teams: the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL), the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and is part-owner of the Seattle Sounders FC franchise (which began playing in the 2009 season) in Major League Soccer (MLS).

Paul Gardner Allen was born in Seattle, Washington, to parents Kenneth S. Allen, an associate director of the University of Washington libraries, and Faye G. Allen, on January 21, 1953. Allen attended Lakeside School, a private school in Seattle, and befriended Bill Gates, who was almost three years his junior but shared a common enthusiasm for computers. They used Lakeside's teletype terminal to develop their programming skills on several time-sharing computer systems. After graduation, Allen attended Washington State University but dropped out after two years in order to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston, placing him near his old friend again. Allen later convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard University in order to create Microsoft.

Allen co-founded Microsoft (initially "Micro-Soft") with Bill Gates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1975, and began marketing a BASIC programming language interpreter. In 1980, after promising to deliver IBM a Disk Operating System (DOS) they had not yet developed for the Intel 8088-based IBM PC, Allen spearheaded a deal for Microsoft to purchase a Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) written by Tim Paterson who, at the time, was employed at Seattle Computer Products. As a result of this transaction, Microsoft was able to secure a contract to supply the DOS that would eventually run on IBM's PC line. This contract with IBM was the watershed in Microsoft history that led to Allen and Gates's fabulous wealth.

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