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.