Learn anywhere, starting in Texas

It’s great to be back in Austin, Texas. And not just because it has killer BBQ, awesome live music and I call it home — but because this week is the Texas Computer Education Association’s annual expo and convention, TCEA 2015 — one of the biggest of its kind. They’re not kidding when they say “everything’s bigger in Texas” — this show is huge! And the key theme of the conference isLearn Anywhere (#learnanywhere on Twitter). So there’s no better time and place for us to launch our new service specifically built for schools, colleges and universities than right here, deep in the heart of Texas.

Mainframe2 at TCEA 2015: Bringing schools to the cloud

Learn Anywhere really hits home when it comes to what we’ve built at Mainframe2. We’ve heard over and over again, that by running Windows apps in a browser from the cloud, we’re eliminating the last remaining barriers between students and software. With the flexibility to run even high-end scientific, engineering, and graphics design software on a smartphone, a Chromebook, or a home PC — students no longer have to wait for that one hour a week in the school computer lab to learn on the best tools. And better still, our new interface makes it easy for a school IT admin to onboard and distribute any Windows app to all of their students on all of their devices in under 10 minutes.

If you’re an educational institution, signup for our Early Access Program today for free by going to www.mainframe2.com/signup and learn anywhere. And if you’re at TCEA, come see us for a demo at booth #115.

Learn anywhere

As I thought more about the significance of this theme, I recalled the conversation I had with Buck, my father-in-law, while visiting him here on Sunday. As a native Texan for over 80 years, and someone who can claim the rare distinction of being part of THE very first generation of software developers, Buck’s special insight and appreciation of this topic had me captivated:

While “computers” have been around since antiquity in various mechanical forms, the first “software” came on the scene in 1948. “Baby,” also known as theManchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, was the world’s first stored-program computer and it ran its first software on June 21, 1948. That happens to be the exact same year that the term “transistor” was coined at Bell Labs. It would take another five years or so, until software and transistors came together and formed the basis for, well… everything in computer science today.

Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (Baby). 1948.

Buck started his career at precisely that moment in time. Finishing college in the mid-50′s, he hired on with RCA to learn how to operate this fancy new thing called a mainframe computer (never mentioned in school). He started training on the RCA 501, one of the first commercial mainframes and went on to write assembly code for UNIVACs, HP 2100s and eventually the computers in fighter jets (can’t say more — that’s classified).

What stood out to me as Buck described his career, was how HARD everything was. To do anything with computers of the time, you had to intimately know how everything worked, in excruciating detail. Every step was cumbersome, complex and painful (woe to he who dropped the stack of paper cards that made up a program). And this continued even into the “personal” computer era where you couldn’t really use a computer if you didn’t know what an operating system, hard drives, RAM, and GHz meant.

Fast forward to today — and we’ve seen an incredible shift in the abstraction of the computer from the software. Devices are now built around how and where you want to use them. You don’t have to be a computer expert to run software anymore (babies and iPhones — need I say more?). And with Mainframe2, the cloud is the computer and you don’t have to install and run a Windows app on a Windows PC, with a Windows OS and X amount of RAM and Y hard disk space and Z CPU GHz… You don’t even have to deal with the complexities of using VDI. Just go to your Mainframe2 launchpad in the browser on any device you have and go.

We’ve come a long way in the last 60 years of software and computing. And we’re thrilled to be here at TCEA 2015 to ultimately help students learn anywhere. For more on our launch check out our press release and sign up here.