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81-year-old self-taught coder releases her own app

Did you know there’s a 75-year-old woman with more gold medals for swimming than Michael Phelps? What about the 80-year-old female body builder that’s also a personal trainer? And in India, there’s a school just for grandmas. Now more than ever, women are proving that age is just a number by accomplishing impressive tasks despite their old age.

Let’s add Masako Wakamiya to this list. She’s a Japanese woman who learned how to use a computer at the age of 60. She has written PC textbooks, runs a blog, and teaches computer classes. She even learned how to code and at the ripe age of 81, she recently launched her first app for iPhones, called Hinadan.

Hinadan is a game based on the Japanese festival Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day) that occurs on March 3. Players dress dolls in traditional clothing; to win the game they must arrange the dolls in the correct order that corresponds with the festival’s traditions.

Note: If Wakamiya’s story has inspired you to learn how to code then here’s a great place to start: Codecademy! It’s a site that offers free online classes in HTML & CSS (create websites), Ruby (apps), and more. And for kids, there’s Swift Playgrounds. It’s a free app by Apple that teaches children how to code.

Wakamiya said it took her about half a year to develop Hinadan. She wanted to create an app that would get elderly people interested in smartphones. She said older people can’t compete with younger people when it comes to games involving speed and dexterity. Instead, Hinadan is about knowledge of traditions.

Wakamiya spent over 40 years managing a bank before she retired. She was taking care of her mother so it was hard for her to leave the house and be social. Then, she read an article that said computers allow you to chat with others from inside your home. To hear more about Wakamiya’s story, watch the TEDx Talk she did a few years ago in Tokyo. And if you’re reading this on the app, click here to watch the video.

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