Book Review: Paul Allen – Idea Man

My list of books that I had recommended to me included this one. Given my interest in the early days of the tech industry, I picked up a copy.

The book – Paul Allen: Idea Man is the memoirs of Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. The first half of the book talks about how Microsoft was founded and all that went on there. The second half of the book is more about Paul Allen’s philanthropic endeavors, and how he has spent part of the fortune he made with Microsoft.

Being the first memoirs that I have ever read, I found it quite interesting. It was wonderful to see the insights and thoughts of one of the people who were there from the start (the other being Bill Gates). I found the first half of the book to be considerably more interesting than the second half, although the second half certainly isn’t bad by any means. It definitely gave me a new perspective on things, as well as filled in a few missing gaps of my knowledge of the origins of Microsoft.

I found a few things in particular to be very interesting. In reading about the early days of the software world, it is interesting to see how the particular characteristics of individuals either helped them or hindered them in their success. This is something I plan on writing more about in the future. I had no idea that Bill Gates was so aggressive. Given Paul’s point of view things may be slightly exaggerated, but nonetheless it was interesting to hear about the shouting matches and what went on behind closed doors. It certainly has given me a greater appreciation for the amount of work that it must take to form a successful start-up software company.

Another interesting thing I discovered about the book itself: Look very closely at the cover of the book and see if you can notice what is wrong. Look closely at the keyboard of the computer. Arrow keys are traditionally on the right hand side of the keyboard.

Next up on my reading list: Len Beadell: Too Long in the Bush – the story of one of the great last explorers of the Australian outback.

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