Remembering Paul Allen

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died yesterday at age 65. His cause of death was Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, the same disease that nearly killed him back in 1983. Allen, who was every bit as important to the history of the personal computer as Bill Gates, had found an extra 35 years of life back then thanks to a bone marrow transplant. And from the outside looking-in, I’d say he made great use of those 35 extra years.

Of all the early PC guys, Allen was probably the most reclusive. Following his departure from Microsoft in 1983 I met him only four times. But prior to his illness Allen had been a major factor […]

Triggering a Trump meltdown: What was the point of that anonymous Op-Ed piece, anyway?

Thirty-nine years ago this past summer, I was working in a dingy cubicle in a K Street office building in Washington, DC when the man with white belt and shoes walked by. I was working as an investigator for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island and the man with white belt and shoes was a security consultant hired by the Commission to deal with a series of news leaks about our work. As a result, this consultant was overseeing the installation of an expensive video surveillance system, showing it off at that moment to the chief administrator for the Commission.

“Who do we think will try to […]

Kai-Fu Lee’s new book says Artificial Intelligence will be Google vs China and will kill half the world’s jobs

Kai-Fu Lee was born in Taiwan but grew up in Tennessee, which is nothing — nothing — like Taiwan or China. His PhD is from Carnegie-Mellon and for the first half of his career Lee was “that voice recognition guy” first at Apple, then Microsoft, then Google. Lee took Google to China the first time (a new Google China effort is starting just now). Today Lee is an Artificial Intelligence expert who runs a $1 billion venture fund with offices in Taipei and Beijing and, according to Anina (the pretty girl in the picture with me who has lived in Beijing for most of the last decade) he’s “an absolute technology rock star […]

IT is urbanizing, McDonald’s gets it, but Woonsocket doesn’t (yet)

My favorite UK TV producer once had to sell his house in Wimbledon and move to an apartment in Central London just to get his two adult sons to finally leave home. Now something similar seems to be happening in American IT. Some people are calling it age discrimination. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but the strategy is clear: IT is urbanizing — moving to city centers where the labor force is perceived as being younger and more agile.

The poster child for this tactic is McDonald’s, based for 47 years in Oak Brook, Illinois, but just this summer moved to a new Intergalactic HQ downtown in […]

How to cut the cable yet stay within your bandwidth cap

After 31 years of doing this column pretty much without a break, I’m finally back from a family crisis and moving into a new house, which sadly are not the same things. Why don’t I feel rested? I have a big column coming tomorrow but wanted to take this moment to just cover a few things that I’ve noticed during our move.

We have become cable cutters. Before the fire we had satellite TV (Dish) and could have kept it, but I wanted to try finding our video entertainment strictly over the Internet. It’s been an interesting experience so far and has taught us all a few lessons about what I expect […]