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At 15, Nathan Keller takes a big byte out of the Internet world

September 25, 2000

At 15, Nathan Keller takes a big byte out of the Internet world



By KEVIN CLAPP / Staff Writer


Nathan Keller has a computer in his room. Nothing out of the ordinary there, until you discover he built it himself.

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Without directions. And he got materials by buying and selling parts on the Internet auction site eBay.

Oh, yeah, and he's 15.

"I'm an eBay junkie," Nathan admits. "I enjoy that an awful lot. It's a lot of fun."

The Clear Spring High School sophomore, whose family lives in Cearfoss, began working on computers in elementary school when he took a typing class using old Apple models.

"They were really slow," he says. "But I enjoyed doing it."

From there, Nathan has become more involved with computers, navigating the information superhighway in the same way he built his machine: By trial and error, learning as he goes.

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One of his Web sites, www.germanautomotive.com, focuses on his interest in Volkswagon Bug cars. Since the beginning of the summer he has also been a resident expert at the advice site askme.com. Rated 607 out of 137,000 experts, he has answered 412 questions since he started and responds to people in an average of 13 hours.

But life online isn't all-consuming. His parents won't let that happen. Computer time is limited, and it has allowed him to pursue other interests: His passion for Volkswagens, snowboarding and, lately, golf.

"I'm looking at it as when I retire I can go out and play golf for a couple of hours," he says of joining the golf team this fall.

"We don't want him to be a zombie at the computer, but he does have a talent at it," Nathan's dad, Lynn Keller, says. "Rather than just be into himself and always in front of the computer, there's more value in being well-rounded."

Nathan's sister, Lydia, also works with computers. A graphic designer, she graduated from Shepherd College last spring.

Both Lynn and Nathan's mom, Trudy, get a kick out of their son's exploits, particularly his gig with askme.com.

"I think it's funny," Trudy Keller says. "My 15-year-old son is an expert to answer people's questions."

Last year, Nathan's took a mission trip to Venezuela. At school this year, he is looking forward to being a member of Future Business Leaders of America. When all else fails to capture his imagination, there's always the old VW bug he and his dad have and plan to restore someday.

He has enough to fill his schedule three or four times over, but it's not all. Nathan is also a budding businessman, working to create a business plan for a business that ... well, he's not quite sure what it will do. Yet.

"It'll have something to do with the Internet," he says. "I don't have the funding right now, so I've been looking into VC's - venture capitalists."

A venture capitalist is willing to invest in a start-up business.

Whether or not this idea will fly, Nathan says he'll keep plugging away at the computer, learning as he goes with his friend Jon XXXX, with whom he started www.germanautomotive.com.

"We have a lot of fun," Nathan says. "We've learned a lot."

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