Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has been detailing his criminal past, and that of fellow founder Bill Gates, in a new autobiography.
In his book Idea Man Allen recounts how the pair worked in their early years testing software for a computer timesharing company called the Computer Centre Corporation (C-cubed).
Once their work finished they were faced with mounting bills for computer time, so they "got hold of" an administrator password, according to Allen.
The two men used the password to access the company's accounts and set about trying to find a free runtime account so that they could carry on programming without having to pay for the time They also copied the account database for later perusal. However, management got wise to the plan.
"We were summoned to Fred Wright's office, where we were shocked to see Dick Gruen and another C-cubed representative, an unsmiling man in a dark suit," he recounts.
"We hoped we'd get let off with a slap on the wrist, considering we hadn't done anything yet. But then the stern man said it could be 'criminal' to manipulate a commercial account. Bill and I were almost quivering."
No charges were brought, but this was not the only escapade the pair got up to. Allen recalls their teenage years dumpster diving among computer companies' rubbish in order to find documentation for the TOPS-10 operating system used by DEC.
Allen's memoir covers the early years of Microsoft's history, from a dusty mall in Albuquerque, to the early 1980s when Allen left the company to deal with a bout of cancer.
Gates comes off well in the book. While Allen recounts epic verbal battles between the two, he recognises Gates's drive and entrepreneurial talents, and acknowledges his pivotal role in making Microsoft the biggest computer company of its time.
Allen recounts how Gates would periodically work himself to exhaustion in the early days of Microsoft, so much so that he would simply sleep on the carpet. When Gates's new assistant found him this way, she was told just to tell people he was out of the office.
However, Allen wrote that Gates increasingly began to believe his own myth and began to claim credit for things he had never done. When Gates was trying to persuade Allen not to leave Microsoft, he claimed credit for code Allen had written, but admitted his mistake when confronted.
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