Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, left, chats with Portland Trail Blazers owner and former business partner Paul Allen during a game between the Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in Seattle in 2003. (AP)
Paul G Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates before becoming a billionaire philanthropist who invested in conservation, space travel, arts and culture and professional sports, died Monday. He was 65.
He died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, his company Vulcan Inc announced.
Gates said he was heartbroken about the loss of one of his "oldest and dearest friends".
"Personal computing would not have existed without him," Gates said in a statement.
"But Paul wasn't content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people's lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, 'If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it,'" Gates wrote.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Allen's contributions to the company, community and industry "indispensable".
"As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world," Nadella wrote on Twitter.
Allen, an avid sports fan, owned the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Allen and Gates met while attending a private school in north Seattle. The two friends would later drop out of college to pursue the future they envisioned: A world with a computer in every home.
Gates so strongly believed it that he left Harvard University in his junior year to devote himself full-time to his and Allen's startup, originally called Micro-Soft. Allen spent two years at Washington State University before dropping out as well.
They founded the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer, giving hobbyists a basic way to program and operate the machine.
After Gates and Allen found some success selling their programming language, MS-Basic, the Seattle natives moved their business in 1979 to Bellevue, Washington, not far from its eventual home in Redmond.
Microsoft's big break came in 1980, when IBM Corp. decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.
Gates and company didn't invent the operating system. To meet IBM's needs, they spent $50,000 to buy one known as QDOS from another programmer, Tim Paterson. Eventually the product refined by Microsoft -- and renamed DOS, for Disk Operating System -- became the core of IBM PCs and their clones, catapulting Microsoft into its dominant position in the PC industry.
The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983. By 1991, Microsoft's operating systems were used by 93 percent of the world's personal computers.
The Windows operating system is now used on most of the world's desktop computers, and Word is the cornerstone of the company's prevalent Office products.
Gates and Allen became billionaires when Microsoft was thrust onto the throne of technology.
With his sister Jody Allen in 1986, Paul Allen founded Vulcan, the investment firm that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts. He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the aerospace firm Stratolaunch, which has built a colossal airplane designed to launch satellites into orbit. He has also backed research into nuclear-fusion power.