'Paul was cooler than I was': Bill Gates opens up on the loss of his oldest friend

SEATTLE -- "I met Paul when I was in 7th grade, and it changed my life."

Bill Gates has opened up on his blog about the loss of his oldest friend and first business partner, Paul Allen.

Allen, 65, founded Microsoft with Gates. He was also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, part owner of the Seattle Sounders and founder of the Museum of Pop Culture. His charitable contributions are far too great for one single listing.

Allen died Monday of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He announced two weeks ago that he was battling the disease for the second time.

Allen was born Jan. 21, 1953, in Seattle and met Gates while attending Lakeside School.

"I looked up to him right away," Gates said on his blog. "He was two years ahead of me in school, really tall, and proved to be a genius with computers. (Later, he also had a very cool beard, which I could never pull off.) We started hanging out together, especially once the first computer arrived at our school. We spent just about all our free time messing around with any computer we could get our hands on."

Gates said Allen knew, even in high school, that computers were the way of the future.

Fast forward to the 1970s, when Gates and Allen were both living in the Boston area, and Allen made Gates run over to a nearby newsstand to check out the cover of Popular Electronics.

There it was, on the cover:  a new computer called the Altair 8800.

Allen told Gates that the rise of computers was "happening without us!"

And that, according to Gates, was the beginning of Microsoft, "and it happened because of Paul."

"Paul set a standard that few other people could meet," Gates said. "He had a wide-ranging mind and a special talent for explaining complicated subjects in a simple way. Since I was lucky enough to know him from such a young age, I saw that before the rest of the world did ... Paul was cooler than I was."

Tributes continue to pour in for Allen, a beloved philanthropist and Pacific Northwest businessman.

Read more from Bill Gates here.