Screaming matches. Dumpster diving. And a deep bond between two super geeks from Seattle. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen provided a glimpse into the personal computer revolution — and his life as a billionaire — in a rare appearance on “60 Minutes” last night connected to the impending release of his memoir, “Idea Man.” Many of the anecdotes have been told before, but it is fascinating to hear Allen utter them in his own words, especially on such an important national stage.

The piece revolves around the unflattering stories that Allen tells about Bill Gates in the book. In the interview, correspondent Lesley Stahl digs into Allen’s motivations for telling those stories. Allen, the son of two librarians, says he simply wanted to give a true-to-life account of what happened. He also makes it clear that his recent bout with cancer was one reason he decided not to wait to write the book.

“The timing had nothing to do with the many wonderful things that Bill has done,” he said. “But the timing was because I wanted to see if I could do it, and hopefully be alive to see it published.”

Other interesting moments include archival footage of Allen and Gates walking the former grounds of Computer Center Corporation — better known as C Cubed — in Seattle’s University District, where as teenagers learning to code they literally had the chairs pulled out from under them when the company went bankrupt. Also fascinating is the scene with Allen reliving the moment when he brought Altair to life using the BASIC they had written. Allen, a bachelor, also talks about still hoping to have a family.

In case you missed it, Todd Bishop and I also were interviewed by Stahl while the crew was in Seattle. We appear in a Web segment talking about the differences between Allen and Bill Gates, titled: “Is it a vendetta?” The video is below, and more of the back story of our interview can be found here.

Stahl also talks to Allen about his opulent lifestyle, taking a tour of his Mercer Island home (complete with waterslide, Chihuly artwork and basketball court); the Experience Music Project; and the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett. (We also were told that the CBS crew tried to get on board one of the billionaire’s magnificent yachts). Here’s a look:

“If you want something, you can have it, right?” Stahl asks.

In the full episode, Stahl also draws parallels between Allen and Howard Hughes, the reclusive titan who also was interested in aviation, movies and technology.

“I get this ‘Howard Hughesy’ feel: the planes, Hollywood. Do you think about that ever?” Stahl asked.

“Well, I hope I don’t end up in a cinema by myself watching ‘Ice Station Zebra’ over and over again,” he joked. “I think I’ve got such a diverse set of interests – movies, aviation, technology, sports teams.”

“Howard Hughes!” Stahl said.

“Well, I don’t know if Howard was involved in sports teams,” Allen said with a laugh.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/HughL Hugh L

    awesome that both you two were interviewed for this story.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Nice! Though I’ll be more impressed when I see the two of you on Extra!

    • Anonymous

      Personally I’m aiming for an ‘Inside Edition’ expose. :)

  • http://twitter.com/toddhooper Todd Hooper

    Pity they didn’t include your interview on the broadcast. They really needed to add that perspective. After all, nobody disputes Gates was a tough guy to work for, and Paul really doesn’t get enough credit.

    I’m a big fan of Paul Allen and his contributions to Seattle with Vulcan’s development of South Lake Union, the EMP/SFM, his philanthropic work and his continued investment in local tech companies. I could live without the sports piece but each to their own. It would be a far less interesting town without him.

  • http://eyejot.com/users/davidg davidgeller

    It was a good piece. I wish they had spent more time on Octopus, though. Would love to see more details of that thing. I enjoyed the quick peek of his sports facility. When I worked at Starwave we were allowed to visit and use that facility and, to this day, my wife and I regret not taking advantage of his hospitality more often. It was awesome.

    • http://eyejot.com/users/davidg davidgeller

      Forgot to say, too, that Paul looked healthy – which is great news.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kmorrill Kevin Morrill

    What was also interesting is that he’s still looking to get married.

  • http://twitter.com/hrhmedia Hanson Hosein

    1. HUGE shame they left you guys out. It would have given more perspective to essentially was a “he said (Allen) she said (Stahl)” story. I would blame the producer on this one, but as he’s an old friend, and one of the best in the business, I’ll refrain!

    2. I disagree with some of the light criticism above about making the story about you in the comments of your “back story” post. If you were still at the PI or Biz Journal, sure, I get it. But in this new media landscape, as you’re establishing a new brand on your own, it’s ok to occasionally self-promote — especially with regards to a substantive story like this. That’s the world of entrepreneurial journalism.

    3. Aren’t we all glad that they went with the new gang at GeekWire than another Seattle-based tech blog we all once loved?

  • See saw

    —-Speaking of Bill gates Stahl says “How can you? to some people
    Bill Gates is almost a saint”. ——–YIKES!

    Third generation, Rockefeller set-up, EUGENIST Bill Gates —-‘a saint’!

    STahl is creepy.

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