Paul Allen, technologist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, died in Seattle on October 15 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Allen was inextricably involved with the SETI Institute’s efforts to hunt for radio signals coming from extraterrestrial transmitters, funding the research and development of the Allen Telescope Array. This namesake instrument, located in northern California and comprising 42 individual antennas, is used by the Institute every day to search for narrow-band signals coming from the vicinities of other star systems.
In addition to his support of the array that bears his name, Paul Allen joined with Bill Hewlett, David Packard, and Gordon Moore in providing the monies that were so important to keeping the Institute’s SETI efforts afloat following the cancellation of the NASA SETI project in 1993.
Allen gained early fame in the tech sector by co-founding the Microsoft Corporation with Bill Gates in 1975. A subsequent bout with Hodgkins disease compelled him to withdraw from that enterprise. However, he continued to initiate and finance other technology endeavors, as well as foundations that did important research in neuroscience, biology, and artificial intelligence.
Allen also had intense interest in activities beyond technology and science, including sports: He owned the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers. His attraction to popular music and cinema science fiction led him to fund – and largely furnish – the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.
In 2007, at the dedication of the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California, Allen stated that he was particularly drawn to scientific endeavors that had become more attractive thanks to new developments in technology. There is hardly any better example of such synergy than SETI research.