Food & Culture

The Nerd King & Nerd Hall of Fame

The honorary prom king of the nerd high school that is Seattle, Paul Allen is quite the overachieve

By Cayla Lambier and John Levesque January 19, 2011


This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Seattle Magazine.


Most Likely to Space Out: Paul Allen and aerospace engineer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites made history in 2004 with SpaceShipOne (—the first privately constructed manned spacecraft to successfully enter suborbital space. ✱ Class Brain: Founded in 2003, the Allen Institute for Brain Science ( is responsible for endeavors like the Allen Brain Atlas project, completed in 2006, and the first-ever summit for brain sciences. ✱ Best Science Fair Project: Funded and managed by Allen’s Vulcan Inc., Project Halo ( is a research effort to develop a problem-solving artificial intelligence, currently dubbed “Digital Aristotle,” with the goal of creating an artificial tutor and/or scientific assistant with the ability to consider and answer novel questions. ✱ Most Dedicated Hobbyist: In 2000 and 2004, Paul Allen opened the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum (, permanently conjoining two of his hobbies inside one very colorful, very misshapen building. ✱ Best Computer Tutor: What started in 2006 as a digital documentation of ages-old computers has evolved into an impressive timeline of computer technology called the Living Computer Museum, which boasts a working VAX-11 (; not yet open to the public). ✱ Biggest Model Airplane Collection: In 1998, Allen began acquiring World War II–era aircraft, which he renovated and put on display in 2004 as the Flying Heritage Collection ( at Paine Field in Everett. ✱ First Place at Battle of the Bands: What kind of multitalented software developer and noted philanthropist would Allen be without a short-lived musical career on his résumé? From 1996 to 1999, Allen played guitar and wrote lyrics for Grown Men (, a rock group that performed original material. Sadly, the band’s single self-titled album cannot be found on iTunes or Amazon—perhaps there’s a copy in storage at the EMP?


Jeff Bezos


Voted most likely to lead an amazon expedition

Motto:Caveat emptor

Rick Steeves


Organized senior class trip to Amsterdam for $73.29 per person

Catchphrase:Legalize it.


Bonnie Dunbar


Burning desire: Cashing in frequent flier miles on a used space shuttle

Motto: Higher, higher!

Ken Jennings


Favorite makeout song: “(Our Love’s in) Jeopardy”

Catchphrase:‘Bodies of Water’ for $200, Alex.

Bill Gates


Books he’s been meaning to read: The House Without Windows and The Rich Are Different
Motto:There’s a patch for that.

Cliff Mass


Best pickup line: “Wanna create a new convergence zone?”

Catchphrase:Do you believe this weather?

Nancy Pearl


Dewey decimal club (1, 2, 3, 4); nonfiction club (1, 2); fiction club (3, 4)

Catchphrase: “Shhhhh!”

Kenny G


Undergraduate major in accounting, undergraduate minor in sax therapy

Motto:Just put your lips together and blow.

Ciscoe Morris


Dream job: Plant manager

Motto:Ooh la la!


Jeff Bezos, CEO; Rick Steves, European travel expert, marijuana advocate; Bonnie Dunbar, astronaut, Museum of Flight consultant; Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! champion; Bill Gates, Microsoft cofounder; Cliff Mass, UW professor, meteorologist; Nancy Pearl, career librarian, author; Kenny G, smooth-jazz musician; Ciscoe Morris, KING 5 TV gardening guru


Join The Must List

Seattle's best events delivered to your inbox

Follow Us

Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.