Global Acclaim for Aussie Teenagers' Software

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Two Sydney teenagers have won global attention for their innovative computer-based calculator at a global conference of Apple software developers in the US.

Zac Cohan and Nik Youdale were 16 when they created Soulver - a computer program that blends the power of a scientific calculator with the flexibility of a word processor.

The two self-taught programmers were motivated by a single question: why do students still use a calculator, pen and paper to do mathmatics - yet powerful, math-driven computers to write English assignments?

The answer, they discovered, was that almost all computer-based calculators mimic physical calculators and do nothing to improve on its inherent faults – a tiny screen, a tiny brain and no way to keep track of your calculations.

The new software won Zac and Nik two of 20 Australian scholarships to attend the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco last month.

WWDC is a prestigious event addressed by Apple guru (and co-creator) Steve Job, and is the place where new generation Apple Mac technologies are revealed to the world.

In its current version Soulver uses the same language Apple uses to create its iLife application suite (iPhotos, iMovies, iTunes etc).

Now both 18 and at university, Nik and Zac sell Soulver to customers from across the globe through their Internet business, World of Worlds.

Soulver was rapturously received at an annual conference of mathematics teachers, is used by school and university students and has been picked up by parents of children needing assistive technologies - devices that allow people with disabilities to go more easily about their daily lives.

SOULVER: Word processor meets calculator

  • Soulver takes the core values of a physical calculator and adds word processing features such as the ability to customize font and color, text alignment and rulers, find and replace text and opening and saving documents.
  • Like a spreadsheet, Soulver can use answers from previous lines in future lines and as the value of past lines change, future lines automatically update.
  • Answers can be converted from decimal into root, fraction, degree, hex and binary as you type.
  • Soulver uses a powerful engine called BC, a core UNIX technology built into the heart of the Mac operating system, OS X.
  • Soulver embodies all the standard functions of a scientific calculator.
  • Soulver can define an unlimited amount of constants (numbers used repeatedly) and comes with some default constants such as the speed of light: c (299792458) and acceleration due to gravity on earth: g (9.80665).
  • Soulver is built using the same language that Apple Computer uses to create its iLife application suite (iPhoto, iMovies, iTunes etc) and Mac OS X.
  • Soulver is a universal binary and runs on both a PowerPC or Intel Mac.

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Jane Hammond Foster
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