Newly Noted

A local teen designs Apple’s latest must-have app.

By Gavin Nachbar May 17, 2010 Published in the June 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

NOT EVEN A DOWNPOUR and a three-hour line could keep Lake Oswego high school student Tyler Jordan Pluhacek from getting his hands on an iPad the day it came out. Of course, Pluhacek—who goes by T.J.—had a big incentive to snag Apple’s latest must-have device on April 3: the 16-year-old has designed an iPad app, a note-taking program called NoteLook. That makes Pluhacek one of the youngest iPad app developers in the country.

“Nothing,” he says, “comes close to the software I have designed as far as organization is concerned.”

Youthful hubris—or sales pitch—aside, each iPad has a standard notes program pre-installed, but Pluhacek’s version lets users store notes in categories, such as folders on a desktop—something the basic program can’t claim.

A Steve Jobs with chubby cheeks and braces? Maybe. Pluhacek just learned how to program computers last year, and, shhh, he owned a PC until 2008. But his love of playing guitar prompted him to turn to Macs, which support the popular Garage Band music-recording software. Then, inspired by the experience—or mainly, the frustration—of taking notes as a student, Pluhacek spent two months developing NoteLook.

“During spring break I would stay up working until, like, 4 a.m.,” he says. “And then I would wake around 10 a.m. and just begin at it again.”

The overtime is certainly paying off. Pluhacek, who now aspires to start a software development business after college, makes 70 cents every time someone downloads NoteLook (it retails for 99 cents). And after a recent Fast Company article about him, Pluhacek says his sales increased by 300 percent. Envious? Us too. Too bad there isn’t an app for that. T.J.?

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