Modern technologies allow for new ways to look at conventional systems. Whether it is to help children learn in school or to rebuild an ageing Operating System (OS), Puck Meerburg sees only possibilities in what new technologies have to offer.
“When I first started programming, I used PHP to build simple websites,” says Meerburg. “At the time, I was five years old.” By the age of ten, Meerburg had already gone on to develop applications for the iPhone. “It wasn’t something that came gradually,” the fifteen year old explains. “I just said to myself, ‘this is something I want to do.'” Since then, the programming prodigy has developed ten applications for multiple OS, which combined have been downloaded over 300,000 times since they were first launched.
What appeals most to Meerburg are applications that are not necessarily conventional as he calls it, but rather have a practical element to them. In fact, he created his first app TableTrainer because he needed a tool that would help him memorize the multiplication tables. Later on, Meerburg expanded the app and created similar versions for young children and children with learning disabilities. Some of his other applications include a museum exhibition guide on gadgets and an app that turns the iPad into a barcode scanner cash register for kids to use for their play shop.
Nowadays, Meerburg continues to find new avenues and challenges to pursue, such as helping develop a modernised OS for various hardware, including the famous Texas Instruments TI-84 calculator. “Many people probably don’t realise that the TI-84 runs on an OS. They just consider it to be a calculator and not a system which can run programs,” Meerburg claims. Since the system that runs on these calculators has aged, the challenge for Meerburg is to develop an OS using the latest programming techniques. This same sense of challenge has also persuaded him to join a team which has taken on the daunting task of developing a new OS for Mac and PC.
Needless to say, Meerburg’s success and ambition has not gone unnoticed. His programming skills have garnered much interest from national newspapers and television shows, not to mention being asked to speak at various conferences such as the upcoming TEDxDelft event.
This year’s theme, “Let’s make things beta” is of particular interest to Meerburg since he considers the beta phase to be an important part in the development process of applications. “All apps go through various phases, alpha, beta, before being released as a final product,” Meerburg shares. When apps reach the beta phase, it signals the next big step in their development. Given the scale of the projects Meerburg is currently working on, it should come as no surprise that for him, it’s all about that next step. It’s all about making things beta.