Microsoft Co-Founder Rips Bill Gates in Tell-All Book

Dennis Faas's picture

A new book by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen reveals a lot about the company and the people who ran it during those heady days in the early 1980s. Some of the most fascinating content focuses on Allen's impressions of Microsoft's 'wunderkind' leader, Bill Gates -- and not all of it is complimentary.

Along with Gates, Allen helped found Microsoft in 1975, though the latter left the company in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer. Allen beat the disease but never formally returned to Microsoft, instead pursuing a number of other ventures with his newfound capital (including the purchase of several sports teams).

Allen: Gates a "Gangly, Freckle-Faced Eighth Grader"

Allen's book, called "Idea Man", nevertheless says a lot about Bill Gates and the author's time at Microsoft.

He notes that Gates liked to save time by buying clothes that matched easily, even if they were a bit out-of-style. He also writes that Gates ate chicken with a spoon; he also wrote that when Bill Gates was at Harvard, he could fall asleep at his terminal and wake to re-start precisely where he left off, and that he read Fortune magazine "religiously", even before he had a fortune. (Source:

However, these were by no means the most scathing things Allen had to say about Gates in recalling those early days.

Allen also notes that he felt disappointed in the way Gates treated him as Microsoft was getting off the ground. It was at a time when, as Allen states, Gates was little more than a "gangly, freckle-faced eighth-grader edging his way into the crowd around the Teletype, all arms and legs and nervous energy."

Allen's Role Undermined by Gates

According to portions of the book recently published in Vanity Fair magazine, Allen suggests Gates also often brushed aside or undermined Allen's role as a partner.

One of the most interesting notes in the book may be about a discussion Allen says he overheard shortly before his resignation in February 1983. Current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had just been brought in to take over business operations.

"They were bemoaning my recent lack of production and discussing how they might dilute my Microsoft equity by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders," Allen writes. "It was clear that they'd been thinking about this for some time." (Source:

Idea Man will be released on April 19.

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