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Meet Masako Wakamiya, a 81-year-old retired Japanese banker who learns to code from scratch. Her work has made her the world’s oldest iPhone app developers!


Masako Wakamiya | developer | ios | 41studio

Her biggest motivation to learn to code was started when she felt youngster’s lack of interest in creating games for elders. It made her solve the issue by her own hands. Thus, she joined a club for people at her age to learn using the Internet named “Silver Club.” She had started using a computer when she was 60, however she was devoted to learning to code in recent years. During her speech at TEDx Tokyo in 2014, she told her struggle to set up BBS messaging, learn the Internet, Windows, then gradually increased to Mac and iPhones.

“My face was covered in sweat and tears,” Masako said, as quoted by CNN.com.

Over half a year she finally made her first iOS game application targeted for the over 60s. Called Hinadan, it’s a game inspired by Japan’s traditional festival Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Day). The player needs to decorate the dolls to the proper clothes then put them in a specific arrangement. Seems easy, but it’s harder than you think because you need to memorize the complex arrangement between the emperor, his family, and their guests. Hinadan was proving its success as it reached 42,000 downloads in Japan only. Considering its big achievement, Masako was planning to release English, Chinese, and French versions by the end of next year’s festival.

Masako Wakamiya | developer | ios | 41studio

Even though she made a successful app, Masako didn’t stop there.

Aside from actively giving computer classes, taking piano lessons since the age of 75, and regularly writing a blog in Japanese, she was also actively engaged in an international tech world. She was invited to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and personally met with Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook. When she delivered the idea to build more apps for elders, Cook praised her and titled her “a source of inspiration.” Cook’s compliment encouraged her to build more apps for elders in the future. She was determined to create apps to entertain elders as well as introduce the elder’s culture and traditions to the young people in Japan.

masako nakamiya | developer | ios | 41studio

As amazing as she is, Masako is just an ordinary lovely grandmother who had been triggered to be a proactive individual.

“As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it’s motivating,” she said as quoted by The Jakarta Post.

Masako further explained, the secret to staying healthy for elders like her just kept learning something new. With determination to keep learning, come the motivation.

“Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country’s economy,” Masako told AFP as her statement is in line with Japanese elders that reached up to 25 percent of total population.

Masako Wakamiya | developer | ios | 41studio

Learning coding and building apps were the major reason why she kept healthy.

“I am so busy every day that I have no time to look for diseases.”


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