Hugh Pickens writes writes "The LA Times reports that Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen writes in his new memoir that Bill Gates, his onetime business partner, was a "mercenary" opportunist who schemed to lessen Allen's stake in the software company. Allen says in his book "Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-Founder of Microsoft" that he learned of the plot while listening in on a conversation between Gates and Steve Ballmer in 1982, after Allen had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Allen said it was clear Gates and Ballmer had been weighing the issue for a long time. "Unable to stand it any longer, I burst in on them and shouted, 'This is unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all,' " writes Allen. Days later Gates gave Allen a six-page, handwritten letter of apology. Gates later made an offer to buy Allen's stake in Microsoft at $5 a share, but Allen refused to sell. "As it turned out, Bill's conservatism worked to my advantage. If he'd been willing to offer something close to my asking price, I would have sold way too soon.""