Fortunately, our family is blessed with more than our share of computer whiz-kids. It all started in the middle 80s when our oldest son received a Commodore 64 as a Christmas present. He had that thing maxed out by lunch.
When I introduced a full-blown PC into the house in the 90s, it developed a problem. I took the machine back to the dealer, and the problem remained unsolved. One of our youngest sons had it fixed in minutes, if not seconds.
You get the idea.
I built my first primitive web site in August of 1995, so I became at least “computer literate.” I built several web sites, always preferring to write the code myself, never using a template. I was even once a guest instructor for a college course.
For me, then, IDEA MAN was a nostalgic trip down memory lane while I nodded and smiled at Allen’s DETAILED memories of creating software for different variations of primitive computers.
The casual reader won’t be so lucky. The same details I enjoyed, may confuse and repel others.
But hang in there. Allen takes his own sweet time developing his computer experiences, but there is much more to the man than chips and circuit boards.
If you can make it to page 191, Allen takes us in a whole new direction as he starts spending the money earned from co-founding Microsoft. An avid basketball fan, in 1988, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers for $65 million.
In 1996, he bought the NFL Seattle Seahawks for $200 million.
He has been a sci-fi and outer space junkie from childhood, and became deeply involved in getting civilians into space. The total cost for SpaceShipOne was $20 million. Give or take.
In Chapter 17, Allen hooked me completely. A fanatic Jimi Hendrix follower, he wore out the album ARE YOU EXPERIENCED. He spent hours trying to follow along with his guitar to Purple Haze. He jammed with other like-minded musicians, including some professionals, and even got paid $25 for one gig – so he could legitimately say he too, was a professional musician!
He took his devotion to Jimi as far out as possible, creating the Experience Music Project for $250 million. More than a shrine to Hendrix, this cathedral is interactive, with the goal to inspire artists of all stripes to grow. EMP includes a recording studio, and so does his largest yacht.
Allen has lost money trying to package TV, phone, and Internet, but he continues to strive for the next step. He is still worth $17.5 billion.
I call chapter 21 “Frankenstein.” Allen is trying to map the brain and thus find centers for how we learn, and what causes brain diseases. His scientists started slicing and dicing mouse brains, and eventually received some donated human brains to work on. Fascinating, but . . . . well, different. One fascinating claim – “. . . . vaccines cannot possibly cause autism.”
I got the very distinct feeling reading IDEA MAN that Paul Allen is far from through. His adventures have just begun.