Greg is one of the founders of Smile and develops apps for OS X and iOS.
- What do you currently do?
I’m one of the co-founders of Smile with Philip Goward. I’m thrilled that our business partner, Jean MacDonald, is the founder of App Camp for Girls.
- How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?
I got started in programming in elementary school via a once-a-week class, which had two TRS-80 Color Computers (CoCos). At the time, my Dad was teaching an investments class, and the Providence Journal ran a stock market game. His class had an extra spot, so he taught me how to read the stock pages and how to play the game. I did well, and I enjoyed it, so I convinced him to let me invest some of my money in Ideal Toy Company. A few weeks later, Ideal Toy introduced the Rubik’s Cube, and before long I had tripled my investment. This was enough for me to cash out and buy my very own TRS-80 CoCo shortly before my tenth birthday. I can hardly believe how fortunate I was.
I learned Mac programming while working a help desk in my university library. I brought my homemade 386 PC with me to school, but I wound up working in a lab with 75 Macs and 6 PCs. The director of our lab was a former Apple employee. She encouraged us to learn Mac programming in our downtime.
- What was the first app you created and what did it do?
My first program was a Mastermind game on a TRS-80 CoCo. It randomly picked the peg colors. You guessed them by typing in the letters corresponding to their colors. When you guessed correctly, you were rewarded with visuals of the colored pegs as rectangular, solid characters and a hearty congratulations message.
- Where did you get the idea for the app?
We played Mastermind regularly in class. We weren’t aware of Knuth’s five move or fewer proof at that time, so for us it was still fun.
- What went well? What could have gone better?
I seem to remember that one of the color name to letter matches was ambiguous, and I don’t think the first version told you the position of the pegs you got right.
- What is your favorite among the apps you’ve developed?
So far, PDFpen. I love that we’ve developed something so many people use every day.
- What advice do you have for young people who want to make apps?
Crack a book and get started. For the Mac, back in 1992, I used the Macintosh C Programming Primer by Dave Mark and Cartwright Reed. The modern day successor would be Aaron Hillegass’ books: Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X and iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide.
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