Just Add Imagination

I met a 12-year old programmer yesterday. He was on a field trip to the Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago with his middle school. He'd brought a USB storage stick with a program he'd written on it to show us. What he had written was a very cool web browser. He told me it included about 20,000 lines of C# code.

He demonstrated the program for the group and I have to say he impressed a lot of people. This web browser had the features you would expect such as tabbed browsing but it had a lot of features I'd never thought about. For example it was a simple menu option to have the program look up the ownership of a domain using whois. And there were other options to get other bits of information about the web site as well. Frankly there was too much to see in a short period of time for me to absorb it all. I gave him my card and asked him to email me. Frankly I want to try his program out for myself. I also want to know more about how he did it as well.

There were a couple of messages I took from this experience. One key message was that young students are very capable of thinking outside the box. They are quite adept at looking at a tool (in this case C# and the .NET Framework) and putting the pieces together in new and interesting ways. Another is that Visual Studio and the objects in the .NET Framework clearly make a lot of things easier to include in a program than ever before. This student was taking full advantage of them and had created a very powerful application.  The combination of opportunity, the right tools and a young, energetic creative mind is a very wonderful and powerful thing.

I just wish we could introduce programming to more young students. This student is 12 but has already been programming for three years. Bill Gates started programming when he was 13 so this young student has a four year head start. Just imagine the possibilities.

{Note: I have a brief follow up on this student posted as he enters high school.]

[Note to Digg readers - please look around and read more of my blog. I'm glad you stopped by.]

Comments (148)

  1. Evilpig says:

    Could we see screenshots?

  2. gabe says:

    Good for him, Im 26 and this is inspring

  3. Justin Cook says:

    this reminds me of a kind in grade 8 that programmed an application to change the bootup screen in Windows 98

  4. lame says:

    Dude you can make a browser in .NET in a matter of minutes… it’s all drag and drop (it is really just redressed IE).  There is no real coding involved.

    Most of my peers and I began coding games in BASIC in middle/elementary school.  This isn’t impressive at all.

    Nice try.  Real browsers (rendering, etc) are written in C/C++ not .NET (any .NET compatible language, be it C++/C#/or even J#).

  5. Markus Sorensson says:

    Just what the world needs: another monopolist!

  6. Brad says:

    I like the "refresher" function.

  7. Sony Marion says:

    That’s amazing. I just looked at the screenshots. It looks better than IE7!

  8. Pepe Trueno says:

    I guess lame is right, the 20,000 thousands of code are just junk generated by the automatic code from the drag and drop.

    lame wrote >>>>>

    Dude you can make a browser in .NET in a matter of minutes… it’s all drag and drop (it is really just redressed IE).  There is no real coding involved.

    Most of my peers and I began coding games in BASIC in middle/elementary school.  This isn’t impressive at all.

    Nice try.  Real browsers (rendering, etc) are written in C/C++ not .NET (any .NET compatible language, be it C++/C#/or even J#).

  9. killercow says:

    "had a lot of features I’d never thought about."

    That’s exactly why firefox is a better browser than IE, it gives not just 12 year old’s the option to build new features, but it gives it to anyone, and not just for their own downloadable package, but for all the firefox browsers allready installed.

    BTW, 99% of the features listed in the screenshots are either firefox rips, opera rips, or allready available trough addon extentions for either browser.

  10. Dan Armeneau says:

    That poor kids going to get his gmail account spam bombed.

    Dan W. Armeneau

  11. Ryan says:

    Sweet.. really good looking, looks REALLY professional if you ask me. I’m just a bit in doubt that this kid wrote all of this himself… I mean.. 😐 damn!? Even the "graphics" and menu’s and other little screen thingies are done so well… I’m not really convinced this kid did it all by himself… or maybe I’m just jealous 🙂

  12. l says:

    I think you were a little duped.  C# probably has the html renderer, and honestly, this summer, while coding nearly every day and night for something, I came out with only 5-10k lines of code, depending on how you look at it.  20k is just too much, even without QA. It was cool he did that, but you had the moral obligation to comment on that, esp. given his age.

    I do agree about the general message. The best coders I know today started young, and all of us are used to working solo and unhindered, a complete turn around from what I have seen of the corporate world.  The external pressures are off so motivation is strictly personal and the end result isn’t as watered down (though the actual result is a little rough).

    Kids learn the best, and given the ubiquity of computers in modern life and the sciences, we can teach them early (elementary school, that worked for several us), it would dispel many misconceptions early on and is a much more motivational way at first to learn how to think logically than paper&pencil math.  The reward (your program) will not be received until you think everything through,  and the more ingenious and persistent you are, the better the result.

  13. lpcustom says:

    Sounds very much like Bill Gates indeed!

  14. bmzero says:

    I’m not saying that this browser will revolutionize the world, or even his middle school class, but I wasn’t doing that at age 9 or 12! What were you doing?

    I say, more power too him. He has a better start than I did.

  15. bmzero says:

    I’m not saying that this browser will revolutionize the world, or even his middle school class, but I wasn’t doing that at age 9 or 12! What were you doing?

    I say, more power too him. He has a better start than I did.

  16. gzur says:

    "If we wish to count lines of code, we should not regard them as *lines produced* but as *lines spent*". — Edsger Dijkstra

  17. bob sante says:

    so, is microsoft going to rip him off and not pay him?!

  18. farkob says:

    I was writing browsers in Visiual Basic. But, the best browser was ie that time, so i had nothing to inspire from. good work at this age.

  19. Sunir Shah says:

    Folks, it doesn’t really matter if the browser is Teh Awesome!@#$! Or that he used the .NET drag&drop to build it. Or even if he got help from Internet forums. The guy is 13.

    What matters is that he could get something to work, he knows what the tools are and how to make them Do Stuff, and that he understand enough about how a sufficiently complex program could work that he can talk about it intelligently.

    At 13, that is huge. If he keeps at it, he’ll be stellar.

  20. Meh says:

    Wow, an imbedded IE object.  Congrats.

  21. Evil da Pig says:

    @ lame

    I think you missed the point. No, he didn’t code the browser from "scratch", but the point is that he added interesting and non-trivial functionality to a browser and C# and it’s wealth of classes made it relatively simple to create it. I probably wouldn’t code a compiler in C#, but it’s a complete language and such an exercise is not out of the realm of possibilities. Don’t be such a language snob.

    I really don’t like coding in Visual Basic, but it’s easy access to the masses allowed a whole lot of people who would never consider programming to write really interesting applications. Not the best designed or the most efficient algorithms, but interesting and functional.

  22. J.I. eclevia says:

    Come on. If you must write for a story like this ‘kid’ better introduce him or her properly, like a name duh??? For all i know you just made it up for you to have something to write on your blog and land on DIGG. Of course, these kids are out there by the hundreds…but like you said, "just add imagination," I think that’s all you’ve really written, literally. Sorry but it’s not factual, it’s fun though.

  23. sigh says:

    This is about as good as being about to hook up a stereo. Sure he ripped off the front and make some new knobs for it, but "the hard part" ie the part that makes music the part that makes it a STEREO was already built by someone else. The article should say 12 year old plays with Photoshop.

  24. Simon says:

    There’s no feat here, I was doing the same that age, and I know people who started programming even earlier (at 5). Like others said, it’s *not* a browser, it’s only a front-end for the IE engine. I did this with the IE 3.2 engine using Delphi when I was 14, in 1997, and I hadn’t a global understanding at all. I would have done it earlier, but I only had a net access at home around 97.

    I still remember how it was done:

    Step #1: drag ‘n drop the IE component and other interface elements

    Step #2: write lame glue code (eg, events code for buttons/address bar)

    Step #3: ???

    Step #4: profit! Not 🙂

    No, I was not expecting a kid to write a browsing/rendering engine anyway.

    What’s good about having a Whois interface in the browser? And I’m sure there is a Firefox extension doing this already.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that kids start programming early, but there’s nothing new here. It’s even worse than it used to be, since kids only know high-level/abstraction languages and can’t even program low-level functions. One day they’ll think that writing a console app is harder than a GUI :).

    The real news here, looking at the screenshots, is that the poor kid is using Windows and is already locked into proprietary technologies/languages. When he could learn so much more using F/OSS, that’s a shame. Hey kid, if you read this, give it a try (GNU/Linux and the wonderful and open realm of a full Free software stack).


  25. Philip Pryce says:

    kills me how hes using windows vista.

  26. satguy says:

    Why can’t anyone seem to believe that a kid could actually do this?  Or did he just hurt your pride too much.

  27. Ryan says:

    I was programming in BASIC when I was in 6th grade with a toy computer, I graduated on to VB and C merely from the desire to create my own programs.  By 15 I had a popular MUD online with a decent sized player base.  At 20, I haven’t written more than a few lines of code in over a year.  I think it is burn out, this kid is over exherting himself if he actually did it all solo.

  28. Kim Siever says:

    @Justin Cook

    The bootup screen in windows is an image. It’s no that hard.

  29. Jack says:

    Interesting, I found the interface is similar to another browser called TheWorld browser.

  30. Andrea says:

    When I was 13 (1983) I was programming Basic and started learning Machine Language with my ZX Spectrum.

    Doing ANYTHING was really difficult, no RAD, no cool editors, just a blinking cursor…

    And no internet to show my stuffs to the world…

  31. Ali says:

    I started programming at 10 using a pen and a paper because my parents refused to buy me a computer …

  32. stephen says:

    Every here of those kids who are 3 years old and can read entire kids books?  They wow all the parents and family.  Then they realize that child has somehow memorized the words.  Kids can memorize a lot.  Comprehend a read at that age, not so much.  

  33. andrew says:

    You’re all a bunch of know-it-all jerks. I bet if you had a 12 year old son that could do half as much as this kid did, you would be impressed and proud. If not, you shouldnt be a father.

  34. I seem to recall that during my visual basic programming course in high school, there was a wizard that you could use to create a web browser. I know this because every time the class was boring and I wanted to surf the web, I would just "code" a web browser and surf away. Quite essential when they had locked us out of launching web browsers on our own.

  35. Jim says:

    Pretty good for a youngin’  Not many coders my age (22) can say they started that young or did something that involved.  Sure what he did is conceptually easy to do with C# and all the visual editing goodness that comes with VS, but it’s still an interesting project, and still impressive for a kid.  I say good luck to him in the future.

  36. Fnord says:

    satguy..everyone believes he did this… He created a browser in C# using the IE browser engine… end of story.

    Kinda neat, but also trivial in terms of code.

    And about his age.  It’s cool, but it’s not unique.  I was programming games in TI-basic at 7…and I’m not the only one.  Of course, most of the people writing games at 7 probably wrote better games than I did, but hey, I’m a slow learner

  37. domix80 says:

    Senti ma te credi forte?Io non so che hai fatto… ma non c’è da vantarsi per essere riuscito a inculare quelli della microsoft…quelli fanno schifo, lavorano meglio le scimmie.

    E poi alla tua età ti dovresti fare le pippe, non programmare.

    Bella per te.

  38. domix80 says:

    Daje rispondi!

  39. domix80 says:

    Ma che me state a censura…….?Lo vedi la microsoft fa schifo.

  40. Oliver says:

    So, is it standards compliant?

    What’s the 24bit PNG Transparency rendering like? Better than ie?

  41. domix80 says:

    Mi avete censurato, siete delle merde!!!!!!!

  42. domix80 says:

    Tutta colpa del pipparolo mancato.

  43. gazza says:

    "Bill Gates started programming when he was 13 so…"

    Bill Gate$ had never started to code…

  44. dozens says:

    To all the people who "claim" they did/could have done this back in the day, without internet, without facny editors, through 10 feet of snow uphill…

    Most likely you "never" did or could and would probably have a difficult/long time to do it right now.  Where are your pictures, presentations, actual program?  You don’t have any now and you won’t anytime soon.  

    I guess it just burns you to see a 12 year old actually take advantage of stuff you never did and do more with it.

  45. Upthorn says:

    It’s cool that this kid is getting started so early.

    It’s also cool that there are now systems available to make such a task trivial.

    It’s not cool that these systems are proprietary, opaque methods, because it means that this kid, who started so early, will become completely accustomed to the use of these methods, and may become confused and frustrated when it becomes necessary to write code without making use of the .NET framework

  46. dante says:

    yeah, great. can i go to sleep now?

  47. Fox says:

    Is that a joke? a 13 year old guy coded a browser? Ask him what DOM’e is, and I guess he wont tell you.. This is just impossible.. In order to make a good browser with that kind of graphics, people set up companies, like Mozilla open sourse movement, they’ve got hundreds of people in state.. And you are telling me that a 13 year old guy did this and expect me to believe it?


  48. Jonathan says:

    It reminds of myself at this age, I was coding a lot of things (among those, a web browser, that’s what it’s making me smile), and experimenting with graphic design softwares…

    I trust that this kid has been able to do it by himself, but I think that he borrowed code from forums and other sources (which is normal ! even professional coders do and should do that sometimes).

    By the way, the internet explorer control helped him a lot I think.

    Anyway, congrats to this kid.

    ps: I’m 21 years old, so I’m not that old (before you start saying that web browsers didn’t exist when I was a teenager ;)).

  49. Patrick says:

    It’s not impressive – not that I don’t give the kid props for knowing more than most other kids his age. This is by no means newsworthy.  These kinds of things happen all the time, except the kids don’t usually visit ::shudder:: M$ and bring the program on a thumb drive. Again, no disrespect to the kid – he’s smarter than average no doubt.

    Impressive or not, it doesn’t matter.  He’s in love with M$.  Unless he wakes up, he’s going to be absorbed into the M$ world and never do the world any real good.

  50. a says:

    It’s cool that programming languages become simpler so that it doesn’t require you to be an aging geek to be able to code a simple application

    It’s cool that a kid enjoys and has fun coding at such a young age

    But he should rather spend more time having fun with his friends and doing more social stuff than coding. I mean he’s freaking 12. Do you remember much about when you were 12?

  51. Ty says:

    Omg, you people are so damn irritating.  Everyone has to read and say "I was doing this or that at that age!"  Toot your own horns much?  

    Oh, and I doubt that someone *you know* was programming at 5.

  52. Delta Taph says:

    Dude… I’m 12. That’s the only reason I clicked on this Digg link. My limits are XHTML and minimal CSS. Gratz to the guy who did this. Still think he’s a show-off for sticking it on a USB and actually taking it to MS…

    I’m too busy any way. Not that I couldn’t do this if a few lines of ActiveX were dropped into a file. Still, nice one little kid. You do us all proud.

  53. Daniel H (Nottingham, UK) says:

    Many of the points mentioned above are bang on.

    He might of created his own browser, but really, all he has done is dragged and dropped various controls onto a form and done a little bit of coding behind them.

    It’s good to hear he’s learning young. When I was 13 or so I started out with Visual Basic, made my own little browser (which never left any traces of history behind so you could look at porn without your parents finding out!) which was cool. Except it was just the "IE" control stretched over a form with a few buttons at the top.

    I even made a client/server app which could do stupid things like open a CD drive on a mates PC. That was just using the ‘winsock control’

    All I’m saying is, this news isn’t really newsworthy, I bet there’s millions of 12 year old kids out there making little apps for themselves in .net.

    If he coded the entire thing in C++, then it’d be newsworthy.

  54. Greg says:

    Hey kid, don’t let any of these guys bring you down.  Everyone starts somewhere. Just ensure that if this browser is to be a vista browser that it includes all the new vista dialogs and vista layout standards and surely that it supports xbap’s.

  55. Steve says:

    Cute, but really this is based upon prebuilt components and doesn’t contain any complexities of what a real browser entails- for example ‘refresher’ is a dangerous tool that wouldn’t be made commercially available to a user- its up to the site author and potentially extension builders.

  56. nice guy says:

    I started programming at 3 and my first program was Windows1.0

    yes, Bill stole it from me, bastard!

  57. stevelucky says:

    when i was only 4 i built my own computer out of legos. it talked to me. when i was 7 i wrote my own programming language. in fact they used that language to not only design the space shuttle, but to launch it was well. at 9 i redesigned my parents house with an etch-a-sketch (that i also made myself). i then rebuilt the house with an erector set. at 13 i was hired by the government to be their computer. you heard me. not to build their computer, but to be it. i am to this day, the governments computer.

    and you are a tool.

  58. tedades says:

    Its nice someone does something like that, but what most people say: its just putting objects together and linking them in a cute way.

    I dont think he had to do a lot of actual coding.

    I once made a website with C# (visual webdeveloper) and its was all done with wizards…

    If he actually coded it all then its a different story.

  59. Hank says:

    "That poor kids going to get his gmail account spam bombed."

    and i’m man enough to do it

  60. Jeff says:

    OK, to all the people that are saying how easy it is in C# please note that this kid was able understand C# and .NET enough to write this. I’m sure given the opportunity when we were all young we could have accomplished this as well. The fact that someone his age has the access to tools and information to do this bodes well and bad for our futures. Well that more people will be able to write their own custom tools and understand how computers work in the future. Bad that it potentially puts us out of a job.

    To his credit it looks like he was rather thurough in creating an entire browser interface around the "Drag and Drop" controls.

    I remember being that age and writing choose your own adventure games on an Apple IIe. Then onto HS where I wrote applications on my lovely TI-86 and worked on the web. It wasn’t until after HS I was building GUI interfaces. Kudos to this kid and Kudos to MS for finally giving people a way to develop for Windows without having to pay an arm and a leg. I know *nix has had it all this time.. but starting C/C++ in a *nix environment would be a bit too hard at 12.

  61. Danny Crane says:

    When I was 13 I was rebuilding and painting bicycles. Does that mean I invented a new bicycle? No.

    Kudos to the kid for getting attention for being mediocre. That’s the real feat here.

  62. googleplex says:

    Those icons aren’t his, I’ve seen some of them before in an old Maxthon theme

  63. C says:

    Yes, I agree that it is nice to see people programming at young ages.  I am 26 now and have been programming since I was about 10.  I believe that I have a little bit better than average programming skills.  I started out with languages like C/C++ and BASIC.  I wrote a text based browser in C using different libraries  I think it was less than 2k lines I also wrote one in VB when I was 13 or 14.  It was cool had the options that I wanted, but it still used the IE objects.  Sure I could have written code to do all that, but that would have taken time to write parsers and I would probally have more compatibility probems then the IE object.  I used them I did not want to waist my time worrying about compatibility, I wanted my features.  Writting a program back then was a lot harder than it is now.  I am sure that he is using a lot of the built in functions of .NET and their drag and drop.  That does not matter.  If you really want to judge this kid like most of you seem too, first look at his creativity.  I would say that the kid is creative.  Next, look at his code.  Strip out all of the generated drag and drop generated code.  Look at what is left.  Analyze his coding style.  Is the kid truly creative? Or is this stuff he read out of a book or online, and applied to his project?  If the kids does think and program outside of the box, then he should get credit for his coding skills.  I guess what I am trying to say is that will technology today and the fact that it constantly changes sometimes good or sometimes bad you should not compare the file product based just on apperance.  Any thing created today is going to almost alwasy look better then it did if it was created days, months, or years before.  I know this comment is long so I will end it asking you this question.  Given the current technology and resources could you do it if you were the same age, or would you able to create the same crappy text based or Windows 3.x browser you created when you where young?

  64. Simon says:


    I take it you’re replying to me. Well unless he’s a liar, what I don’t think he is, he did start programming at 5. What does it mean? Full understanding of computer programming? Nope. Just writing small console apps, like asking your name, a calculator, etc. I did so at 7 in turbo pascal so I’m sure that starting at 5 isn’t that unusual.

    I didn’t program much at that age, but I did sometimes with my (8-years older) brother. The friend I know was taught by his father. What’s exceptional? How is it "tooting my horns"? These are just facts.

    I really came back to computing when I had my first PC at home in 97. Previously, I had been using some at my father’s work and at school, but also Macs, Atari ST and SunOS workstations.

    There are a LOT of code/script kiddies out there, just like there were a lot back when I was one. I programmed in Delphi using components/libraries I didn’t fully understand but I did tons of (now lost) programs; I still remember some of them:  trojan horses servers + clients (like back orifice), a portscanner/client which would try all known trojan horses at the time and try to reboot the targeted computer, a collection of mini-games that we played with pencil/paper in class, IRC bots, 3rd party Ultima Online programs (a bit like UO Stratics’ Xena’s ones), and so on. I also did a ton of "test" applications to learn GUI design, and my (very lame) web browser based on IE 3.2 was one of them. Most of this happened in 97/98, when I also started learning PHP 2/FI and Perl.

    Was this a feat? Nope it wasn’t.

    Having been IRC admin for 5 years in the past, I have "met" a lot of kids who were doing just like me; they were starting with PHP and mIRC scripts, then VB crap and finally to C/C++. I know a lot of those kids. I know a 17 years old who ports device drivers to NetBSD. And I know him since he was 13 and a Windows script kiddie, doing websites in PHP and lame apps in VC++.

    Now, I don’t have anything to prove. I’m doing a Master of Computer Science and soon be a PhD candidate. Compared to my comrades, I never had any problem with learning new languages in a few days, and it is because of my early start with computers and programming languages.

    Anyway, that’s not my point (it was made before by someone else). When I started programming on Windows in 97, I already knew that there was something called GNU/Linux. It ran on my brother’s computer (who was not living at home anymore). I didn’t know what it was precisely, but I knew it was meant to be a Windows replacement. Because of the state of Linux at the time, and because I started playing Ultima Online more than programming ;), I only starting using GNU/Linux as a development platform (not yet as a desktop) in 2000 (and this is the only reason I would thank EA/OSI to issue the dreadful UO:R patch…), because PHP3 would crash when using POST on Windows.

    Now, the state of GNU/Linux is completely different. It is mature enough for kids to start with it. This browser should be using the Gecko engine and run GNU/Linux. Sources should be available for the world to see. That’s my point.

  65. jnk says:

    No.. there are kids like this out there by the thousands.  Hackers, crackers, phreaks, and programmers.  The teenage generation alive today does not wish to prove to eldery people of our evolved powers.  You are all too ignorant.

  66. John says:

    Kudos to the kid, even if it was alot of drag and drop work, i haven’t seen one of you "I was programming Some-old-language when I was 10" people show us any of those programs you wrote back then. This kid has guts to show off what he’s done, even if it is a lite copy of IE 7. By the time he’s my age (34), he’ll probably have written a new OS kernel or taken an active role in some new technology that has changed the way computers are used…. Don’t diss the kid, at least he’s got a good start somewhere

  67. otakucode says:

    Young people are very surprising to anyone who accepts the lies propagated in society today that they’re fragile morons who need to be protected at every turn.

    They can write web browsers, grasp the complexities of life and death, handle fictional violence, handle nudity in movies and games and all the rest.  Society invented the concept of adolescence, it has almost no biological basis whatsoever.  Don’t be taken aback by the fact this kid is 12.  Feel sorry for him that he won’t be allowed to be rewarded for his talent in more than a cursory "oh, isn’t it nice such a young boy can do these things" way.  Luckily, he probably has access to the Internet.  And is his parents aren’t the typical hovering parents that watch every single damn thing he does online, he probably participates in some good online communities where his skills, not his age, matter most.  Those are the things that will help him grow, not being fawned over by adults saying "oh, when I was that age…".

    Stop insulting kids and start respecting them.  Judge their accomplishments without regard to their age and they’ll be adults before you know it, rather than it taking until they’re 45.

    (I experienced all this myself 12 or 13 years ago when I was featured in an article in the New York Times about how the ‘Nintendo Generation’ was getting computer jobs at a young age.  It was very insulting.  Of course I could do the things I was doing, anyone my age could if they did as I did and ignored school so that I could actually learn things.  I still got grounded when I was caught with porn though.  Complete condescention from every adult, and it only appears to be getting worse as time goes on.)

  68. jiggidy says:

    looks like he just used firefox and changed it up a bit. i mean firefox is opensource.

  69. old and stupid says:

    these types of stories just make me realize how stupid, un-motivated and old I am.

  70. someone says:

    Giving him a bit too much credit…I respect that he put in the effort to do what he did, BUT 20k lines for a re-implementation of the IE API is way too much, I doubt he’s got anything efficient IF he wrote it himself and didn’t just drag and drop the parts in to be auto-coded by an IDE.  I smell bologna.

  71. Ronaldo says:

    I started programming when I was in the womb! I didn’t have any fancy computer, just an abacus I fashioned out of my mother’s internal organs!

  72. moondark says:

    i guess the kid will be much better if he gave up on M$ stuff. he will become a better programmer. languages like VB creates really bad programmers.

  73. bob saget says:

    Nice twist on simply BRANDING an existing browser… It’s misrepresentation like this that makes me hate digg and all the diggtards who submit stories like this.

  74. Joey says:

    If those of you who are smashing this kid want to be taken seriously, learn to spell first. I’ve seen more misspelled words in the last 5 minutes reading this than I have in the past week. Let’s not rip on someone’s language of choice until you can use yours correctly!

  75. someone says:

    On the other hand, to the kid, I would say don’t stop trying…definitely keep at it and this is as good of a start as anywhere else.  I just don’t think its a digg or medal worthy acomplishment unless you’re tryin to just build his self esteem or something.

  76. MikeT says:

    It’s just a Form with some ActiveX controls on it. Not much different from painting a basic picture in Photoshop… The real difference would be if he wrote his own parser that reliably could handle at least one markup spec. All of the programming work that really matters was already done by the guys who wrote the components.

  77. News says:

    ผมได้ไปอ่านเจอเรื่องที่น่าทึ่งมาจาก Blog ของอาจารย์ Alfred Thompson ซึงเป็นอาจารย์สอนคอมพิวเตอร์ให้นักเรียนชั้นมัธยม

  78. Viko says:

    He is young yes… And he clearly finds programming interesting, I’m sure he will become a good programmer.

    If he does not fall in the trap, start getting used to drag/drop programming, and never evolves.

    Just take a look at his webpage… hosted on office Live, looks like a microsoft page, and does not work in Opera.

    Lets see what he can do when he switches to OS X full time.

  79. moondark says:

    so again, the question is? will M$ buy the browser from this kid? and implement the "all new and cool" features into IE 8? Yeah sure making a simple browser with embedding controls is easy when it comes to M$ .NET, but I think the point here is the kid did give it a good try.  It will be really good if kids of that age looked into open source stuff like FireFox and started to be part of it. Then it will really mean something. We all like blocks when we were kids. Now .NET based programming has become more like playing with blocks. Some are more creative other are not. But teaching kids to learn program with .NET is really a bad news.

  80. this kid probably used a custom browser control and just ‘modified it’. At 12 I was programming in BASIC on DOS (early 90s), but I mean it’s not that big a deal – plus I doubt he created the images (looks like a webbrowser control to me – like those kids that use vb + ie control and think they’re programmers).

  81. marc says:

    Hi I am 7 years old and I write programs. My daddy taught me when I was only 5 and now I can make my own programs. I know c++ and javascript too. Goodbye

  82. Slappa says:

    Wow. Incredible that the majority of the replies here are "so what, he just did bla bla bla" instead of "wow, cool stuff. what a nice idea. i have some tips, though …" – and from people over 10 years older than him. Give him a break, give him a hand and stop booing. At least he’s trying, improving and getting better than the rest of us while we discuss. (HE didn’t say he made this from scratch – he just set out to fulfill some ideas, with the tools available for him.)

  83. Adam says:

    Wow!! I really can see how so many people here are so jealous of how a kid of 12 is able to code more than many people posting here, whether his code is real or not, he has already many doors open out there. So, all the jealous people here better start to worry about your creepy job…

  84. Marc Melvin says:

    All of the graphics can be found on the following sites:




    I can’t waste my time trying to track them all down, but I have a large assortment of licensed icon sets from these companies that have the exact same icons in them.

    Unfortunately, at prices of $200+ per set (or even the "low cost" of buying them in large packages) they are still more than a 12 year old could probably afford.

    AKA, BitTorrent and Newsgroups are his friend. Hopefully, 12 year olds can’t be sued.

  85. Marc Melvin says:

    Trust me, no one is jealous. We are all laughing at the people that think a 12 year old kid dropping a free component that comes with the free .NET SDK on a form and adding a little tweak here or there is absolutely amazing.

    If anyone at Microsoft is actually impressed by this kid, it is for other reasons (I’m sure he is very intelligent). Not his browser with pretty stolen graphics and reused free components.

    BTW, I was learning C++ when I was 12. I was programming in Basic on a Commodore 64 when I was 5. The people that find this out of the ordinary are the delusional ones. All programmers with true talent learned on their own and from a very young age. Period.

  86. boner says:

    when i was 12 id come home eager to rub one out after school. after rubbing one out daily for several years i decided to start programming. who cares what every else did. this article is about the fact the kid was able to use .net to efficiently make a program that works. and if u dont like ms or .net why are you on the msdn site? go make some popcorn while u wait for your kernel to boot. no one makes perfect software or programs. not at first release anyway.

  87. iamuber says:

    I started programming in the womb

  88. Darcey says:

    It seems this kid as bruised a few egos.

    BTW, I started coding when I was just 2 months old in pure binary. Heres my first ever program:


  89. boner says:


    here @darcy i just converted your program to hex. it should work better now.

  90. K says:

    No big suprises here.. at 13, I was teaching a programming class at my middle school (using BASIC) as an after school activity. At 14 I had already sold 100 copies of a program that converted DOS batch files to C code so they could be compiled into executables (downloaded of of AOL’s shareware base)

    We are not jealous or saying that the 13 year old could not do this. We are expressing the opinion that he author obviously thinks this is a huge accomplishment when really it is a simple coding project. At this time given the tools and the code generation abilities of new tools (VS.NET), projects like this are not out of scope for a new programmer.  Most of the options simply modifying object parameters and refreshing the gui.

    Good job but nothing news worthy.

  91. Adam says:

    For sure, a "programmer" of 12 years old "average" is not capable of do this kind of projects, good for you if were able to, but anyway probably he reached his goal , and now almost certainly he is going to get a nice job though.

  92. Joe says:

    I wish this kid the best of luck in the future,  I think he deserves a  "Congratulations" For his hard work.  It looks very very professional, and that By The time he is 20 he should have some great work ahead of him  

    Good Luck, Joe

  93. Foo says:

    Whoop dee doo, I made a skin for winamp, therefore I wrote an mp3 player! and last month I made a theme for windows xp, I wrote an operating system!

    In any case, you got a chuckle out of me, so I thank you for the post.

  94. I started programming when I was 8 (on ZX81 and Thomson computers).

    At that time, there was a huge interest in coding for your people. There was a lot of magazines full of "listings", ie. source code that you had to copy in order to run an application. People copied these listings, then they improved the code and they quickly learned how to code;

    And since 8-bit computers had limited resources, a lot of people familiar with BASIC quickly learned assembly language, in order to get faster code and to use tricks that weren’t accessible in pure BASIC.


    Later, with Atari and C64, there was a real scene, both for creating demos and for cracking software. 12-years old programmers, crackers, music makers and gfx designers were common. We did that because there was a competition. It was fun to discover new tricks, to get faster code than other coders, to crack software before other crews, and to make wonderful graphics out of 16 colors.

    20000 lines of code is really not a lot, especially on operating systems that don’t require a full reboot everytime there’s a bug in the code, like OS-less assembly programming did.

    I’m actually shocked to read that it looks like an exceptionnal thing that a 12-years old guy wrote 20000 lines of code.

    Or actually, what it means is that nowadays, young people have absolutely no interest in programming. And this is sad.

  95. too says:

    When I was 12 i was hacking Z80 assembly such as game trainers and cheats, then own demos and games and even self made AY3-8910 module for speccy. Next in 8th grade i’ve got Amiga and things got really fun. Using .NET is a piece of cake comparing to GENS or MONS – 8-bit resident dis/assemblers weighting few KB of 48Kb ram 🙂 And yes, I had a life. Or did I not?

  96. Dave - South Africa says:

    Screw all u jealous bastards…

    I say CONGRATS to him!! 🙂

  97. a says:

    Give congrats to the kids who have finished COLLEGE by this age.

  98. arthur says:

    if this kid goes to college he will finally get a chance to act 12

  99. SS says:

    The guy who is plugging this is making it sound like you can write anything in .Net in a couple of days and make it look good. That’s just a shameless plug designed to garner attention.

    But when this little genius gets to the real world and discovers security, session management etc., and when he discovers how hard that is in .Net, I guess you will not be putting up that story then.

  100. Compie says:

    Hey give the boy a break, he made a beautifull GUI. Which is very important because linux is fast and "efficient", but also very ugly and Nerdisch.

  101. For only 12 years old, I have to say congratulations.

    But, I’m still not very impressed since the app still uses IE as the browser engine. Now, if he coded the browser engine himself, then I would be really impressed.

    Overall though, looks good.

  102. moose says:

    I started programming at the age of 6, on my c64, by 12 I had managed to write a primitive ray-tracer in AMOS.

  103. AlfredTh says:

    Darcey you dropped a bit somewhere on the last letter. Either that or you have a spelling error.

  104. uhmk says:

    no need to learn to program, just pay the indians and arabs. go outside and do something that doesnt make you into a 75lb pompous prick.

  105. arthur says:

    why would you pay them if m$ and yahoo already do?

  106. Mike says:

    To those who are simply saying he dropped a bunch of controls from .Net with a bit of glue code I wonder, why didn’t you do it?

    Sure, because it’s just IE, right?  I mean, you couldn’t have … I don’t know, added in features to pre-parse files coming in, etc, etc…  Right?  You’re probably all l33t Firefox/Mozilla hackers.  Am I right?

    If you take even five minutes to look at the screen shots, ignoring the article completely, you’ll see it’s more than just drag & drop.

    Of course, it probably hurts that the 13 year old is a better coder than you 😉

  107. Eric says:

    Jesus H. Christ. All you people comparing what YOU did as kids to this kid, or slamming him based on your skills NOW is lame and pathetic.

    Seems to me that any kid trying to learn anything on their own (even if it is ‘drag and drop’) I say good for them.

    Better than spending their free time bashing someone half their age (or younger…)

    Lame ass bastards…

  108. David says:

    I’ve been programming since I was eleven. I started off by making a browser in vb5. I’m 16 now. I was never good at making things look good like this kid though.

  109. zagnut says:

    Are there any programmers on this board?  It is fairly trivial to stitch together large widgets to make browsers, editors, etc.  Most of the stuff is pre-written, and you just drag the items and insert your code into the thousands of lines of pregen code that the tools spew out.

    I realize everyone loves a prodigy, but this isn’t that big of a deal.  

    OTOH, if he actually WROTE the code from scratch, that’s huge.  The TCP/IP code to handle the media types and WYSIWYG rendering engines are incredibly hard to write.  I find the chances small that it is all from scratch.

    So as some said, no, this isn’t slam out of hurt pride, I’m questioning how much work the kid actually did.  I just have fun bursting the bubbles of the sub-100 IQ crowd who get excited about this stuff, and shiny objects.

  110. Ilya says:

    I agree with the above poster.. I said the same thing in my previous post. I’m a web programmer and I know how complicated and how much time it would take to make that thing.. Maybe that guy is a good illustrator, he might’ve just drew out new icons and put up some engine.. we don’t have an opportunity to test that browser, or to find out how much work was done or to find out if the author of this article is lying.. So, I believe further discussion is just pointless!

  111. Programmer! says:


    I don’t think you get our point. Our view is this:

    Kid pulls out spray paint, paints his dad’s 360 Modena blue and then changes the tires.

    The headline would read:

    12 Year old creates super car that rivals Ferari!

    we are not bashing what the kid did. What we are saying is it is not news worthy because he didn’t "program a web browser" He mearly skinned m$ internet explorer. Its analogous to the guy who posted about skinning winamp. A trained programmer could put this program out in two days or so using Visual Studio. The fact that it is in C#, C++ or Basic doesn’t matter. The scaffolding is there and the plumbing required is small. The 20,000 lines of code probably includes directives, comments and white space. If it took him 20k lines of code to "skin" explorer… thats not an accomplisment.. thats code bloat.. Hey maybe he should get a job at m$ 🙂

  112. Ilya says:

    Hm, did you notice the thing about screenshots? they all contain google :).. Why? May be another "ad compain"?

  113. I made a web-browser using VB6 when I was 10 years old–that was back in 2000. The code was like 3000 lines. However, today–after learning loops :P–i know how to condense that repetitive code…I’m a sixteen year old high school senior now..

    Oh yeah..like him, I used the (activex?) internet browser control I think.

    The "web browser" would be like 50 lines of code today…lol

  114. Bill Gates says:

    Just to clarify this matter, the guy in question is our lead scientist for Internet Explorer 7.


    Bill Gates

    (ex) CEO

    Microsoft Corporation

  115. AlfredTh says:

    I’ve had to remove identifing information about the student in question because people keep overflowing his mail box. He’s really only a 12-year old boy and he’s not prepared to handle a couple of thousand requests for his program. Please leave him alone. Thanks.

  116. rolo puente says:

    i cant imagine which are the system requirements for the web browser if the TEXT EDITOR (as far as i know, texts editors… just edit plain text files..) needs this to work:

    Base System Requirements

       * 1.0gHZ Processor

       * 256MB RAM

       * 20GB Hard Drive

       * 1024×768 resolution 32 bit

       * Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, Windows Vista

       * Speakers for optimal effects

    btw. not even the quake 3 arena has those requirements to run.

  117. Mark Acem says:

    It is quite an achievement for a 12-yr old boy, creating a browser. But to think that everything is given in .NET, i guess he should be given just as equal impression with older programmers.

  118. Ashish says:

    I like the whois feature. This 12 year old has done a great job! I started programming on BASIC when I was 9. I also created a web browser when I was 12..but I just used a bunch of controls. 🙂 Bye the way, whats that kid’s name?

  119. Picallo says:

    I have to say that im a beta tester of this browser, and its really bad.

    I couldnt installed it so i had to do it portable (in order to install it!!!)


  120. Ernesto says:

    Poor boy , instead of playing football with friends , or just enjoy free time like others of his age do.-

  121. Saskia says:

    I wrote my first program when I was 7 (yes, and a girl too LOL), on a ZX Spectrum. Now I code for a living 🙂 If the kid likes it, good for him!

  122. Clive says:

    I find all the disparaging comments about this not being a valid story because the lad didn’t code from scratch amusing – I know hardly any one in the software industry who codes everything from scratch any more. Essentially they’re saying that we should all be coding in assembler? There really is no need to re-invent the wheel every time. Sure – sometimes implementing something again from scratch can be advantageous because you can avoid making mistakes you made the first time round. But the reason we’ve had so very much progress in software over the decades is precisely because we do ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. And the next generation of programmers will be doing what this kid did more than we do today – hopefully! Because it would be a darn shame if we’re still coding everything in C and assembler ten years from now.

  123. Mukund says:

    Where are the screenshots.

    Yes I started such coding I mean making internet browser at around an age of 19. THat time we had VB. and that was a darling for kids like us. We started making small utilities like multimedia players, lane chatting utilitis, internet browser image editors etc on our own before we were out of our 12th and d final year in school. All thanks to the wonderful Visual Studio. Now that we have VS.NET which has got a tons of features + the allmighty .NET framweork, I think we’ll see more and more wonders soon.

    Hats of to that Kid. Can I have his email address too? Just want to congratulat ehim 🙂

  124. GodsDead says:

    Flippign hell i think its kick ass what hes doing, im a web programmer and im 18.. right and i havent even started lookgin into desktop 0_0 this is nuts 🙂

  125. NeZz!! says:

    Damn he did a good job with it with all the small functions he put in that aren’t in the other browsers as standard. there are some bugs in it but its still an early build 🙂

    its cool he put all thoes diffrent ms technologies together

    Really cool done by a 12 year old!!

    Grats to you kid if you watching!!

  126. Big Deal says:

    Im 13, ive programed since I was 7 starting with basic and now using mulitipule languages such as C++. All the people who defend the kid by saying we brag too much or we are bluffing, obviously never done programming before or really sucked at it when they tried.

    And to the person who posted:

    #  Just ot clarify

    Just to clarify this matter, the guy in question is our lead scientist for Internet Explorer 7.


    Bill Gates

    (ex) CEO

    Microsoft Corporation

    Wow, know i know where all of microsoft’s shit sofware comes from. I think the kid should spend more time learning a real language that will be a lot more benificial in the future. Good start thoguh.

  127. Forhad Ahmed says:

    I have a flu and am a little light headed… now i dont know if its just me but i really cant find the links to the screenshots…. (SNEEZE)..

  128. Matthew Lesh says:

    You could be right saying that he is using drag and drop.

    But don’t under estimate programming skills of 12-13 year olds I am one and have been programming PHP for about a year.

  129. MiSHAK says:

    @ali same kind of parental support

    Started programming in same age as that "amazing boy". In 14 I have 486DX2 IMHO in age Pentium II.

    Anyway he’s lucky boy. I’m Czech there’s no chance to went on school trip to Microsoft in 12 ROFL.

    Now 19 and studying informatics on FIT-VUT Brno.

  130. Savz says:

    A lot of you ego maniac coders need to stop thinking about yourselves for once and just notice that it’s a positive thing for a 12 year old to be programming, whether it’s “drag-n-drop” or not, more power to him.

    At 12 I was starting to experiment with weed and noticing girls. That didn’t turn out positive in the end but now being a programmer for the past 5 years, I wish I was doing it at 12.

    Everyone has to always have a negative opinion or talk about what he / she did at the age of 9 to show off… save it for yourself, nobody gives a shit and aknowledge the positive outcome this could have..

  131. bakkouz says:

    Screenshots? Where are the screenshots? I don’t see any or links to any, were they removed or something?

  132. Yuvi says:

    When I was 12 (Hey that was just 3 years ago:D), I wish I had been exposed to .NET. At that time, all I knew was Turbo C, and was just getting very excited over Visual Basic 6….

    As the commentators said, my code churn almost dropped to zero once I got an internet connection and with it people to socialize with…

    Someday, Mr. Alfred, I hope to meet you, as a colleague, and am now preparing my skills for that… Hope I succeed…

  133. grizli says:

    Nothing interesting about it. I started when I was 8 and i had only book written in german about basic which came with my c64. I didn’t know a word in german and I was able to learn basic from that book. Just imagine you don’t have internet, don’t know english and there aren’t any books in the shops about programming. I feel I was genius when I was young, but that’s over… 🙁

  134. Mark Magill says:

    Hey, I’d personally like to see this browser and wish the kid all the best. Anyone have a link to it? It was mentioned in PC Mechanic’s newsletter this week, but the link is broken.

  135. AlfredTh says:

    The kids web site was pretty slammed with traffic and some links have been taking down to prevent the whole site from getting shut down because of extra bandwidth usage. Sorry about that. Maybe when the broswers is ready for wider release I can make a mirror available.

  136. Al says:

    well i am 14 and i program too you can check out my website at http://www.alex.43i.net

  137. Keith says:

    I wished I had done the same when I was 12. But then I never have my first computer until when I was 15.

  138. bill setag says:

    too bad he’s coding in microsoft.; somebody please introduce him to c on linux.

  139. AlfredTh says:

    Why is it too bad that he is coding "in microsoft?" Is that because his code will only run on 90% of the personal computers in the world? C is an ok language for some applications but junk for most of them. Linux is an unimaginative copy of an operating system that was behind the times 20 years ago. What makes you hate this kid so much that you want to inflict C and Linux on him?

  140. Loh Tien Hock says:

    OK… Here is my opinion… Like most "hardcore" programmers here… .NET just SUCKS… Drag and drop stuffs can easily make up to 1 Million lines of codes, but what do you know behind the scenes??? NOTHING… I began as a casual programmer at 14, good old BASIC does not work that day anymore… so i was using C. Whats nice there was, you’ve gotta learn a lot, well better than the assembly language and BASIC old days. But still, drag and drops is still juse drag and drop, you don’t learn and do coding that way. Just an opinion.

    But impressive he got the idea to do stuffs, most kids at the age of 12 is still playing games 😉

  141. Loh Tien Hock says:

    Okay, here’s why its too bad he codes on "microsoft".

    First : .NET languages are less portable, even now .NET can be ported to linux, there are still problem on other OSes, ie. Mac.

    Second : .NET language is kids play, Do you really know WTF is going on behind the scenes? But in linux and C… You do better (even though its still high level, but it is impossible to code in assembly nowadays)

    Third : .NET is a propiertry software, but nowadays Open Source Softwares are taking over the marker.

    😉 peace

  142. AlfredTh says:

    SO it seems to me that the objection many people have is that it is too easy to do what he did with .NET. Of course anything is easier when you use the right tool so I see the objection and being that he made the right decision about what software to use. If he had made a stupid decision and used the wrong software more of you would be impressed.

    I think of myself as a fairly hard core progrmmer. I’ve done operating system development in Assembly language. Actually in several assembly languages and several operating systems. I’ve also done a lot of programming in higher level languages. After almost 35 years of programming the first thing I look for is people who are smart enough to find the easiest way to create the software that is needed. Life is too short to waste a lot of time doing everything the hard way just so someone else will be impressed.

  143. C FAITH says:

    Just give the kid some credit. So what he used another program to re-code the program. He still thought outside of the box and did something that none of us have done. Congrats to the 12 year who took a dream and made it a reality!

  144. Gregg Irwin says:

    My son, who is almost 16, sent me this link. I imagine he was both inspired and frustated to hear about someone younger than him building a big application like that.

    I can see both sides to this. I’m an old BASIC hound myself, starting seriously with QB, then PDS, various non-MS dialects, and VB1 through VB6. I still use PowerBASIC for certain things. The BASIC stigma, based on early unstructured BASICs has persisted, but those of us "on the inside" just laughed, because we knew we had a killer tool. I didn’t care so much about "coding" or impressing "real programmers"; I just wanted to create useful applications.

    Mr. Thompson stated most things in a way I can agree with, e.g. "[.NET] make[s] a lot of things easier to include in a program than ever before". The point is not writing code, and I don’t know how you define "programmer" these days. I don’t know if this 12 year old is "a programmer", but if he was able to create what he wanted, the tool worked for him, and that’s OK by me. We have a problem of pervasive elitism in the programming world; I would like to see that change, but I know it won’t happen soon, or easily.

    For me, C# is very much C; friendlier in many ways, but still not a human friendly language; i.e. we’re still "inflicting C on him".  And whether .NET is the right tool depends as well. My son saved up for his own computer, but it’s a few years old now and I don’t even know if VS.NET would run on it. We live in the country, with only dial-up service, so the size and speed of things is important to us.

    I’ll follow this blog, not because I think .NET or C# are great, but because Mr. Thompson seems to think about the same things I do; how do we interest kids in this field, make it accessible to them, and encourage them to learn more. (Anyone remember Logo? 🙂

  145. Jason_Ford_818 says:

    i hope you got that email from the young programmer and i hope you got to take another look at his work.

  146. Loh Tien Hock says:

    Like what above thread have said, learn things the right way. Its like learning to cook using prepacked food(ie. instant noodles), i mean… HELO? Do you actually call yourself a "cook"?!?!

    I don’t mean you have to harvest the veges yourself, but at least, learn the basics of things. I thought i was a programmer at the age of 14, but now, I saw my ignorance as I was programming in C and I did not know anything behind it. I now understand majority of assembly, even though i don’t use it to program at least i know whats behind C.

    Gecko is a good starting point for the kid. And I don’t mean offence to the kid. He is REALLY GREAT as at the age of 12, like I have said, most kids are playing PC games(so am I lol)

  147. This is an open ended sort of question. There are some young people who really "get" computers and software

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