When you think of the word “superstar”, there are a number of celebrities who jump to mind.

  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Steve Nash
  • Tom Brady
  • David Ortiz
  • Shania Twain
  • Jim Carrey

Outside the world of sports and entertainment, there are some lesser-known superstars. Coding superstars who have paved the way for innovative applications, powerful software solutions and even some pretty cool games. Programmers who may be talented beyond most people their age, despite a lack of education. Some raise the bar so high, they make their peers seem like mere mortals by comparison. If you are a young programmer looking for inspiration, or the parent of a child who is interested in programming as a profession, consider the following:

Shane Currancurran-shane
12 year old Shane first pitched Libramatic at Dublin Beta in 2012, a startup expo conference in Ireland. Libramatic is a web and smartphone system to run a library. What better role model for young developers could there be than a 12 (now 15) year old who could win a competition such as Dublin Beta at such a young age? Shane started coding when he was just six years old.

Santiago Gonzalezgohw8qonyytvbiwdosju

Sixteen year old Santiago will graduate the Colorado School of Mines this year. He claims to dream in code. He is fluent in about a dozen programming languages, and has created a slew of iOS and Android apps. Not all kids have to dream of solutions to coding obstacles, but it seems they broke the mould when they made Santiago, a self-proclaimed nerd. Santiago often helps his teachers to build apps to solve problems.

Reshma Saujinireshma_saujani
Reshma Saujini is a superstar because she creates other superstars as well as having coding skills herself. She is the founder of Girls Who Code, a movement aimed at getting young girls into the coding profession and to build the talents of young programmers; much like what we do, only with more of a focus on young women. There are programs such as Girls Learning Code and Ladies Learning Code as well across Canada.


Ada Lovelacedownload
Did you know the first programmer was not a “brogrammer” but a woman? Ada wrote the first algorithm for the “analytical engine”. She is known as the “Founder of Scientific Computing” and an analyst from way back in the 1800s. Not bad for the daughter of Lord Byron, a poet, who was raised by her mother to be anything but like her father. Apparently, she succeeded!


Kevin Systromkevinsystrom-headshot
Kevin taught himself how to code, worked at Google, and then was the co-founder and developer of a website/photo sharing social media channel called Instagram. He ultimately sold the company to Mark Zuckerberg, someone who might be perceived as a coding superstar as well. However, if you saw the movie “The Social Network”, you may know why I didn’t add him to this list. All kidding aside, both Mark and Kevin are great coders, savvy business guys, and they both got started in college which is pretty impressive to think about. Billionaires who taught themselves or had limited help in learning how to code. Think of where they’d be if they were part of the Under the GUI experience!

Do you know another coding role model who should be added to this list? Tell us about them! There have been many inspiring programmers who have changed the direction of technical history, and many of them were pretty young when they did so. Guys like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux get a lot of the headlines as far as amazing coders or technology gurus, but there are many lesser known coders who have done some pretty amazing things by developing apps, programs and systems which we take for granted every day.