Cashing in on codes

By Joyce Kim

Charlie Stigler ’11 is a programmer who uses his skills to create iPhone and desktop applications, as well as earn some money on the side. Stigler began programming when he was in ninth grade in the Introduction to Programming I class at the Middle School, and has been programming ever since.

“I actually didn’t like the class much, but it sort of turned out that I was good at it, so I kept on doing it,” he said.

The first application he ever received money for was for an iPhone application named “How to Text a Girl,” released in March of 2009. He sent it in as an application, set a price for it, and waited for people to buy his application.

“To get money from Apple, you just enter bank information on their website. Towards the end of each month, they transfer money into your account,” Stigler said.

Stigler splits the money between different people depending on who helped collaborate with him.

“I end up giving portions of revenue of different applications to Max Ritvo ’09, Andrew Lee ’09 and my brother Thomas,” he said.

Stigler has created applications other than “How to Text a Girl,” such as “How to Ace a Test” and “Achoo!,” an application that tells users how to say “bless you” in 48 different languages.

In January 2009, Stigler got in contact with Steve Lambert, an artist working at the Eyebeam Center of Art and Technology located in New York and has been collaborating with him since.

“Steve doesn’t write codes, he’s an artist, so it was more like he had the idea,” he said. “We discussed new features as we thought of them and then I programmed it.”

With Lambert’s help, Stigler created his most popular application, a desktop application titled “SelfControl.”

“It’s an application where you choose a website, like Facebook or Youtube, and a certain amount of time you don’t want to go on it. During that time period, the application makes it so that your computer doesn’t let you go on that website at all, even if you delete the application,” he said. “SelfControl” got 30,000 hits in only 2 days, which came as a surprise to Stigler.

“It was pretty shocking; I was expecting maybe a hundred,” he said.

Although earning money is a perk, Stigler maintains that his programming is more about the experience than a way to earn money, for now.

“I made nothing off of “SelfControl”, it’s 100 percent free. Actually, I made $125 off the first commission before I knew I’d be doing it for free, but that’s it,” he said. “In total, I haven’t made much, maybe a couple thousand dollars, but I’ve been doing this for free, an open source type of thing. Eventually I hope I’ll be able to make more though,” he said.

Stigler hopes to continue programming through high school and college.

“It seems like a fun thing to pursue, and this is almost certainly what I want to do for a career,” he said.