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North Seattle school where Paul Allen and Bill Gates met mourns loss of software icon

Paul Allen and Bill Gates at North Seattle's Lakeside School (Photo via Lakeside School)

SEATTLE -- Two boys connected by an instant passion for computers met in 1968. Their friendship would change the world.

Paul Allen and Bill Gates both attended Lakeside School. Allen was two years older. The two grew close in the computer center at the North Seattle private school.

“His hair was always wild in those days,” retired math teacher Fred Wright said of Allen.

Wright was in charge of the computers back then, and would turn a blind eye to Allen, Gates and their friends when they would skip gym class to program.

The group would rack up big bills with their computer usage. Wright remembers tracking Allen down in his cap and gown at graduation to pay his final computer bill.

Today, the Lakeside community is mourning the loss of Allen.

“Paul was a wonderful person,” Wright said. “I’m just devastated because he’s such a good person. I just hate to see someone doing such good for the world die young.”

A display case inside Lakeside School celebrates the birth of the software industry. Inside it, several photographs of Allen and Gates highlight the work they did on the school’s Teletype machine.

In 1975, Allen and Gates used the skills they built to start Microsoft.

“They saw something the rest of the world didn’t see at that time,” Lakeside’s Head of School Bernie Noe said. “That personal computing was going to the be the future.”

Allen never forgot where he came from. He and Gates built a math and science building at Lakeside in 1987, the same year Microsoft went public. They flipped a coin and Paul won, so they named it “Allen Gates Hall.”

Allen continues to fund the school’s technology, and helped build a massive athletic center that opened in 2014.

Noe met Allen on several occasions throughout the years.

“I’ll remember his humility,” Noe said. “He’s made the city of Seattle a better city. He’s made Lakeside a better school. And we all owe him for that.”

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