If you’ve been alive in the startup world recently, you’ve heard of Thomas Suarez – the 6th grader who built Bustin Jieber and has started the company Carrot Corp. Well the line of young programming prodigies continues.
I recently had a phone conversation with an amazing 15 year old, Russell Ladd. Russell recently released Blatch, an arcade style puzzle game for the iPad.
Not only is the new game addictive and enjoyable, but it’s also visually appealing and well-designed. This is Russell’s second app – the first was Polyfactor, a calculator that helped students factor polynomials.
Like all young programmers, Russell can be characterized by his eagerness to learn. When he was 11, his parents enrolled him in a summer camp called ID Tech Camp at University of Michigan. The camp started the next summer, but Russell was so excited to begin programming that he found a tutorial online and began to teach himself. By the time Russell was 13, he was programming iPhones with help from Stanford iOS development course on iTunes University.
Russell said that he started programming as a creative outlet, and I asked him why he chose it over other creative subjects.
“I feel like programming is very creative and gives you a lot of freedom,” Russell said. “That there is more freedom with programming than with a blank canvas.”
What shocked me the most is how well-spoken and thoughtful Russell was. We spoke about everything from his choice of programming language to programming education to the perception of programming in society. I mentioned some of Stanford’s newest online courses, and he was eager to check them out
Right now, Russell is focused on learning as much as he can about Computer Science. His next application will have a server component, so he is learning everything he can about web development.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m excited to see what Russell has in store for us.
Photo courtesy of Birmingham Public Schools