I took an interest in computers and technology at a very early age. As such, I love hearing about young people that have also taken an early interest, especially those who have applied that interest to accomplish amazing things! I’ve recently been fortunate enough to meet just such a person.
Meet Jonathan Buchanan: A driven, ambitious 10-year-old boy who may very well be the youngest person to ever develop their own iPhone app entirely from scratch! I took the opportunity to ask Jonathan a few questions about his app (ChipTrading: $0.99, App Store link) and why he created it – and I hope you’ll find his answers as fascinating as I did!
I began by asking him to describe his app and what he designed it to do. His answer providing fascinating insights into not only the app itself, but how he created it by analyzing and then digitally recreating a game he enjoyed from school:
My app, ChipTrading, helps kids my age and younger learn place value in math. I wanted to create this app because I play a physical version of the game with my friends a lot in math class, but we could only play it there. Then I had the idea to create an app so we could play it in other places and I could share the game with others.
He then went on to describe the app in detail, explaining the mathematical principles that make the game work. One of the things that I found most fascinating is that Jonathan wasn’t just developing a fun game, such as Doodle Jump. His application actually teaches math skills – multiplication, division, equations and pairs!
One question into the interview, I was already completely fascinated by Jonathan and his ability to explain things – as well as his ability to recreate the game from scratch, handing all of the coding and design himself. I went on to ask Jonathan how he became interested in technology, and how he learned the art of app development at such a young age.
My dad showed me a simple web script when I was about six. I was not very interested when I first saw it. But I thought about it for about three months and finally told my dad that I would be interested. He said that he was glad that I was and showed me how to make a basic website.
About a year later, I decided to learn a language that my dad didn’t know about. 3/4 of a year later, I said I wanted to make an iOS app because I only was able to make websites and I wanted to have a new challenge. So we ordered an iOS book and I started studying the iOS programming language.
I doubt very much as if many 6-year olds would be interested in creating their own website, even a basic one. Beyond that, the fact that he stuck with his project long enough not only to create a basic website, but also move on to newer and more complex challenges seems pretty amazing to me.
Before reaching the age of 8, Jonathan had moved far past what his father had taught him, and began teaching himself how to develop iOS apps. Developing his first app wasn’t without its trials, either – he found a huge bug in his app right after he first submitted it to Apple, and had to patch the bug and submit it again!
When we submitted the app to Apple, the approval process took about a week [...] We would check Apple every morning and night to see if it was approved. We were nervous when we submitted it because a day later, we found a bug in it!
It was very bad because if you had any chips in the purple column and then created a new game it would say all of your answers were wrong even if they actually were correct. So we had to swap out the code, but when we did that we had to start the review process at the very beginning again.
Jonathan also offered some sound advice to others his age that are interested in learning how to develop apps:
One piece of advice that I would give to kids that would like to create apps is that you need to start out at the basics like learning about making websites. My dad always says that if you start at the basics you will have an easier time understanding the harder things.
In the end, all of Jonathan’s hard work and determination paid off. His app, ChipTrading ($0.99, App Store link), has been available from the App Store since May 5th, and currently has a 100% positive rating from everyone who has reviewed it so far.
I don’t know about you, but I know what I was doing when I was six years old: watching cartoons and playing tag with the neighbor kids. It’s people like Jonathan that restore my faith in the next generation by putting themselves to the test and proving just how much can be accomplished if you put your mind to it.
Congratulations on developing your first app, Jonathan! Here’s to hoping it’s the beginning of much greater things to come.
Jonathan’s app ChipTrading is available now for $0.99 from the App Store (direct link). Personally, I can’t imagine many better things to do with a dollar than purchasing this app and helping Jonathan start saving for college!