Internet School

Let's say you are my age, about to turn 50, and you want to make a career change. You want to get into the Internet business. But you don't know anything about programming, user experince, ad sales, community management, legal issues. What do you do?

For too long there haven't been good answers for people looking to learn this new industry. But that is changing. One of the more ambitious projects is General Assembly, at Broadway and 20th St, in NYC. While most people that know of General Assembly think of it as a coworking space, the founders think of it as a campus environment for all things Internet. I was over there yesterday and got a sampling of some of the courses you can take there. There are courses on HTML & CSS, Android Development, Internet Ad Sales, User Driven Design, The Digital Learning Market, Startup Law, and more. The current class list is here. Class prices differ but for $100 you can generally take one of these classes.

I love this idea. I have friends who find themselves at this place in their career, who are starting Internet based businesses but they don't have the background and experience to make the right choices. Classes like this can help and they don't cost that much.

I've blogged before on the value of coworking spaces. I'm a big fan. Many of them offer classes and meetups and talks from industry leaders in addition to the ability to rent a desk for the day, week, or month. I know that New Work City, the grandaddy of NYC coworking spaces also has classes, including the awesome Girl Develop It program which sometimes takes place there. I believe that the Hive at 55 also hosts classes.

I'm wondering if anyone in the NYC tech community has aggregated all of these classes into a single searchable database. If so, leave a comment and I'll update this post with a link to it. If not, someone really should do that. There's a lot of great learning opportunities out there.

#hacking education#NYC#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    I wonder if these types of classes exist in other cities as well. The need is out there, as you pointed out. Slightly related, there’s a blog I know called Interns over 40, covering resources/links for late career changes http://internsover40.blogsp

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Most schools now have incubators of some sort branching into the niches. It is probably a matter of where the school is located regarding the specialities.There is a big opportunity if you look at it the right way.

  2. awaldstein

    I was completely ignorant of these Fred…I”ll check them out. I know people who are interested or will be once they know of them.Thnx.

    1. fredwilson

      that was the entire point of the postit worked!

      1. awaldstein

        As Hannibal said “I love it when a plan comes together!”

        1. Harry DeMott

          Did he say that in Carthiginean?

          1. awaldstein


      2. Conrad Boyle

        Any thoughts on what would be most comparable to this in the bay area?

  3. Dave W Baldwin

    Expanding on higher education, here is an interesting position regarding art schools and design. Need to push those that are more artistic into the internet pushing the boundaries.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Leave at the top of your game wall streeters, and take an internet course! 😉

    1. Brian Kim

      I already have, and I already am. Been a member of GA since February. I’ve taken a number of courses and it’s fun!I may not be getting that six-figure bonus this year, but I couldn’t be happier.

  5. Guest

    Had a long comment; decided not to post as it was moving a bit off topic. So just replying with a comment about how important it is to share these types of resources. The next big thing might just as likely come from a NOOB techie as a Tech Geek or Tech veteran. Educational formats like this might provide ‘out of nowhere thoughts’ from someone not formally trained in a discipline. Well, I am rambling again…I was planning on seeing if I could stop by and visit General Assembly when I go to New York on holiday. I had a chance to speak with one company who offices there and became personally intrigued with the setup. I am intrigued more with GA now.

  6. Philip J. Cortes

    I think the coolest part of GA is that you’re not alone in these classes. I took a Ruby class last summer, and although there were 8 of us in the classroom, most of the other students had been flown in to take the 5 day intensive and fly back to their respective jobs – so the learning stopped at 5PM on Friday.Learning something like coding can be incredibly frustrating for people who don’t have engineering backgrounds, and a lot of the initial problem solving and learning is best done in groups. GA provides that – you can take the class and have a community of people willing to help you with issues you face, and that’s an incredible value proposition!

  7. Steve

    We are working on a library that will include this type of information at It launched last week in beta, and we are building it out now. We will ad a section for Learning Campuses/Spaces, as well as pull the classes into the courses section.

  8. Nate Kidwell

    Code School ( ) is a pretty cool option too. They do online interactive classes where you watch entertaining lectures, complete labs, and are graded automatically (they have a sophisticated system to parse your answers and say what’s wrong with them).They have two for Rails and are coming out with others for JQuery and HTML5/CSS3.I did their Rails Best Practices class and even if I didn’t learn that much new it inspired me to clean up some cruft in my own code. Plus it was way fun and reinforced, well, best practices.By the way, they created a pretty sophisticated tool letting people build their own online education classes. Imagine if somebody integrated their platform with the Khan Academy.

  9. David Smuts

    Fred, if you’re about to turn 50 and want a change of career = you’re screwed, whatever angle you look at it, whatever industry you’re in and whatever facility such as General Assembly provides you the with tools to learn you’re still screwed. There is no other industry than Tech which discriminates so wholeheartedly against over 30’s. Period. Full Stop.Imagine a VC company backing a first time 50 year old Entrepreneur starting a Tech company- aint never going to happen.My advice to 50+year olds looking for a career change; look anywhere other than Tech!Wrong, I KNOW. Injust, YES, foolish, OF COURSE, short sighted, DAMN RIGHT…, but never-the-less the REALITY ON THE GROUND.I wish it wasn’t the case, but let’s not pretend that this is a viable option for a 50+ year old in this industry. It’s not. And I HATE SAYING THIS!!!!!I for one, would have ZERO problem with hiring a 50+ year old (life experience, maturity, willingness to perform etc..,) but I do not represent norm, nor am I “well established” enough in our industry to make any meaningful impact or difference. It takes the leaders and big names to change the game in this regard. And Fred….., they’re just not interested. (Pity that)

    1. fredwilson

      That’s wrong. I’d back a fifty year old first time entrepreneur. The ideaand the team have to be right. No reason a 50 year old can’t do it

      1. Guest

        Fred, thanks for the prompt reply to this comment. I hope this discussion moves forward a bit. I am very curious to see what others have to say. I think David is correct, somewhat. If you look at most of the press coverage and stories (and funding releases), Tech world startups almost always fit the following pattern: older dude representing money (L.P.s) chase after younger dudes (there might be a raunchy joke in there somewhere but I will leave that to others to coax out). As I said above, I share similar concerns but I am not as hard-line as David … apparently I wear glasses, and I guess they are rose colored.If anyone out there has some comments, I think this is a great place for some discussion. The fact of the matter is our nation will continue to be skewed towards an aging workforce for sometime. If we have potential barriers (psychological; skill based; etc.) that might prevent an aging populace to conceive, start, participate in growing industries and companies it makes sense that we all (as a nation collectively) lay these out on the table and discuss.

        1. David Smuts

          Hey Geoffrey, you seemed to get the point I was attempting to make: pointing out that ageism is endemic in Tech.I would love to see Fred chime in more on this very subject and as a thought leader, challenge this approach.Hey, why not a seed fund for the over-fifties? :-)I write this, because I witness this day in and day out. My uncle is an experienced programmer who was recently laid off (55yrs). He’s multi-skilled and a hard worker, but what are his options? not many in this industry sadly.Where are the good examples we can point to? I’m very pleased and reassured by what organisations such as General Assembly are doing, but in so far as my uncle is concerned…., it is not training he requires but rather an unbiased and open approach to recruitment. All he gets is the “you’re too old” bull shit.

          1. Adrian Sanders

            I wouldn’t call it Ageism, but more – do you have the energy and drive to take this risk and ride it out?Also – it’s hard, VERY hard to recruit good development talent in general.It’s even harder when you don’t have any idea what they do and can’t engage them on certain levels about their role.Using words like API isn’t enough. Good young devs who AREN’T already doing their own thing (because, really, why do they need you again?) are difficult to convince and they need to trust you completely.They are essentially investing their time (20-30s) and talent to someone else’s great idea.that better be a seriously good idea with a really driven person at the top.I’m not there yet, but you tell me how easy it is to stay focused and driven when you have a spouse and two kids, plus at any moment the opportunity for a senior level position at a normal company with guaranteed salary.i don’t have those things. i’m all in on my venture and ridiculously hungry.your old man venture will have to keep up with me and thousands like me.

      2. Guest

        Apologies:1) poor grammar; I am multi-tasking2) my previous reply mentions “as a nation collectively” and I didn’t account for the fact that Fred’s blog is international in scope & reach. I was talking about the U.S. when discussing the aging workforce issues, although other countries face similar issues. My comment’s tone might be a bit nationalistic sounding as a result. My bad.

      3. David Smuts

        I agree 100% with you Fred…., I’m not saying a 50+ year old can’t do it (God forbid) nor am I saying age defines your capabilities (far from it) in fact there are numerous reason to bring on board this profile. Yet, what I am saying is that in our industry we do not see 50+ year olds getting hired or backed very often (if at all).No doubt, if you are indeed backing 50+ year old Entrepreneur then you are setting a good example. But let’s be frank…, why aren’t more 50+year olds entering or competing in our market? because of “ageism”. And agesim is RIFE in our industry. I wish it wasn’t true but it is.In any case Fred, life begins at 50 right?

        1. ShanaC

          I agree with this. it is such a pity too. My mom is a pretty good programmer, and she is older than 50. it was definitely hard for her to be pushed out into consulting because of age.

        2. fredwilson

          we’ve done it a few times in the life of USV and we’d gladly do it again

      4. Dan T

        I think it would be really great if someone could name ANY 50+ first time Tech Entreprenuer that has been successful – as an example. Then, when we find one – I think what we will see is a person that was very good at what they previously did – duh 🙂 That is absolutely key. I think David’s point is that this would be a very challenging path to choose and that the vast majority of other paths would not be as rife with aegism and require as steep a learning curve. I agree with that. If someone “thinks” they might want to get into the internet business, then these classes might be a great way for them to get a feel for what is really involved.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          A key data point you’re leaving out is it comes down to what the successful 50+ does… drink the pina colada on the beach waiting for sunset (?) or look at what he/she could do in the latter HALF of their timespan.Funny thing is the Law of Accelerating Returns applies to longevity also, so thankfully some smarter 40 somethings (I turn 48 Sunday) are beginning to take advantage.As we move thru the this decade, an improvement to narrow apps hitting big fast will move to multiple tier apps generating rev faster. As that happens, the 50+ can handle doing projects and enlighten 20-30 yr olds. Comes down to if the younger can realistically answer concerns from the older mind, both then can move into riskier (more rewarding) territory in agreement.

      5. ShanaC

        Oh good, because long term I may meet people who fit this profile

    2. Guest

      I am not at that age group but I worry about that too sometimes. I am not at a point yet to where I am sure that is the case. Thanks for posting this and getting this topic out there.

    3. Tim Panton

      A friend of mine was on a selection panel for a major financial company selecting a new agency. One of the agencies pitched their youth, saying that no one over 25 ‘gets the internet’. My friend (who is now 51 and was an internet pioneer, running the second internet connection into the UK amongst other things) listened for a while, then got up said ‘Listen sonny, who the f*** do you think built the thing?’ and left the room. They didn’t get the work.

      1. fredwilson

        and didn’t want it either

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        Similar to Reagan response that gets used now and then regarding his age group was building all the things the kids in Cal (while gov) were enjoying.Tell your friend I do like the fact you can make same point and say f***.

    4. kirklove

      I can’t disagree more. Is it harder? No doubt. But don’t bother trying, that’s absurd. I say this with some degree of bias mind you. At 41 I just made a career change and joined a tech company. I love it like a fat kid loves chocolate cake. Granted I’m not the entrepreneur, but that shouldn’t change anything. If someone has the guts, go for it. Age has zero to do with it. Zero.

      1. David Smuts

        I would never say “don’t do it”, but it’s a lot more difficult than just “harder”- and there is a huge age bias against 50+ vs 41, let alone 50+ vs 30 or vs 21.

        1. kirklove

          Agreed. It’s difficult even at 41. I’m sure 51 is many magnitudes more. But, it’s also very worthwhile and rewarding. I am a big fan in believing in yourself despite (and in spite) of what others say is the “norm”

          1. David Smuts

            Me too!

      2. fredwilson

        so is working out? that’s great to hear

        1. kirklove

          Thanks, Fred. It’s great. I mean I get to listen to music all day and talk to people who love music. Plus, they let me carve out an hour or so a day to learn code!

    5. Adrian Sanders

      So what you’re saying is that because it may or may not be harder, you shouldn’t do it.If you think the only value young people bring is that they’re young and inherently “get it” then it’s definitely not the industry for you.There’s nothing wrong with a 50 year old visionary who brings a team of people around him that absolutely crush it and turn it into a reality.Sometimes, young people need a mentor or a leader who can guide them through difficult phases that have nothing to do with industry but just experience.Something tells me that if Jeff Bezos wanted to start a new company in a totally different field, he wouldn’t have problem attracting talent or vc. And he’s approaching 50 (the horror!)



      1. fredwilson

        i have a lot of friends who had kids in their 40s. for my generation in NYC, it seems like the standard age. fertility clinics are doing very well!!!

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    7. leapy

      @DavidI turned 50 back in January. Like many people my age I was part of the dot-com/dot-bomb era and bubble madness. First Tuesday at Soho House was our training ground.What I realise is that I now have far more awareness of the management pitfalls: cash flow, sales pipeline, people, dev teams, people, fund raising, people, investor relations….It’s true, my energy levels *are* lower nowadays but I think I would be more likely to achieve tech start-up success now than ten to fifteen years ago. If nothing else because the infrastructure is cheaper, expectations more mature and, crucially, my peers are in more influential positions.I also know that David is probably correct: Tech/internet would be a very tricky area to get taken seriously which is a shame.

  10. kidmercury

    GA needs a social network and online courses, then real world meetups supplement that.

    1. Adrian Sanders

      can we do that today at GA? that’d be nice.

    2. kidmercury

      GA, how about i build this for you, my business model is to build peer-produced online universities. first one: informedtrades [dot] com. we can utilize game play to help generate peer production and build a structured learning path, and incorporate sponsorship for companies that want to recruit to generate profits.

  11. Tklein

    I can think of a few attorneys/politicians here in DC who could benefit from a clear migration path like GA to another gig! As a competitive weapon in the battle for talent, it’s a great resource so hat tip to NYC for creating these easily accessible tools for career mobility.

  12. Robert Bareuther

    I took my first course there this week on approaching mass media companies as I found a great interactive tv technology to work with, and I was amazed at the energy in the room and the give and take – big salute to GA I will definitely go back for more

  13. daveschappell

    I’m in LOVE with General Assembly (based on idea, @daryn visiting in person, and the overall vibe) and have to insist that you help us get them up on TeachStreet (we’ll promote the heck out of them, and can get them fired up on a TeachStreet Deal in NYC ASAP… you’ll see a launch announcement about that in next hour or so 🙂 )Finally, Fred, which course will you be teaching? I could see you teaching a premium-priced course, with proceeds going to charities of your choice (or, the ‘Fred Wilson Leave on Top Retirement Fund’ 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      MBA Mondays?

  14. Max Ischenko

    I am not keen on tech classes but idea of business/sales/marketing mini courses sound *very* appealing. Especially if this can be made a virtual school, like KhanAcademy. Something like a cross between (mini-)MBA and free-as-long-as-you-have-plenty-of-time self-study on the Internet.

  15. David Haber

    I’ve also got to give a shout out to Skillshare which just launched yesterday and will surely be offering classes in development very

    1. ccarella

      Great shout out. I’m teaching a class on Game Mechanics through Skillshare.

  16. Noah Lucas

    General Assembly is wonderful, been there multiple times and planning on becoming a regular. As someone currently working in a startup i find it inspiring and invigorating to see other like-minded people doing what they can to learn. When you network at the end of class, connect with the teacher if you can!My two desires are a white-label, walled social network where presentation content, a class roster (fb connect or twitter for profile population?) and post-class discussion/networking can live. Obviously opt-inMy other is the desire for a late night coworking space. My passion projects get their priority in the night time and it would be really nice to have a place that would stay open from 10-3 or something. NY Night Owls did this but no meetups are scheduled.

    1. Graham Siener

      You’re in luck — GA is open 24/7.

    2. Sara Chipps

      We have wanted something like the solution you are describing for Girl Develop It very badly for a while now. We have even discussed building it on our own at some point in the future.

      1. fredwilson

        check out our portfolio company edmodo

        1. Sara Chipps

          This looks like a good resource for our teachers, thanks.

    3. fredwilson

      our portfolio edmodo provides a social network for educators and

  17. Neil Braithwaite

    I’m 54, founding an internet start-up, and learning along the way.I approached this project with the same business philosophy that has rewarded me for the past 30 years.I am surrounding myself with innovative people who know the business, have been successful and are understanding of my (Learning) position.I have also found that the internet has afforded me the opportunity to research and learn the industry from highly successful individuals and companies that are willing to spread their knowledge. (Something you can’t always rely on in the classroom)And for some reason, people in this industry (and I mean true leaders) seem willing to be more open to “tell their story” so others can learn and be successful – no strings attached.This blog, and many others, is a testimony to how the business world should work in an open and free society.Like parents teaching their kids and hoping the best for them – so that reaching their goals and passing on their success will become second nature.

    1. Larry

      “This blog, and many others, is a testimony to how the business world should work in an open and free society.”What you are seeing is an artifact of a) Internet built by academics and b) Internet occupied by young idealistic people, (sometimes spoiled as well) and not having to feed a family as well as c) people who possibly crave attention (like me writing this comment?) and some kind of recognition.In traditional business you typically don’t find people sharing the secrets openly of how they do what they do. They may tell certain stories for the dog and pony show but in general you can’t be idealistic like you are saying “business should work”.As far as “surrounding myself with innovative people who know the business” that hopefully will work but I think there is something to be said for having a seat of the pants feel for the thing you are trying to build which by what you have just written doesn’t appear to be the case.

    2. Ldayharrison

      Ditto here. 51 and female as well! I spent my last 30 years in an industry that is so hungry and desperate for technology that I would be a fool not to try to deliver. That is what drives me. It is business no matter how you look at it and nothing more. It is understanding the industry you are targeting and pulling together a team. I see no difference with this and any business. I am just so surprised at the attitude of so many that it is any different than any other business, whether it involves technology or not.Thanks,Linda

  18. David Navarrete

    I’ve taken several classes at GA…while some were definitely better than others, the real value for me came from the comments and additional insight of your classmates.I just wish they’d take over a neighborhood bar post class. When classes let out, it feels like people still want to rap and learn from each other – I know I do.

  19. Steve

    I have seen a perception that if you are 20 – 35, you are either a startup entrepreneur or a young kid (right out of college) learning. If you are 35 (40?) and above, you need to have already accomplished something. While America, in general, does not punish for failure to the extent many nations do, as you get older that may not hold true. People seeking to change careers beyond 40 or so often seem to run into a bit of a brick wall. It gets more difficult as you age.

  20. dteten

    I wrote a blog post summarizing all of the entrepreneur education organizations in NY:

    1. MBA tutors

      dteten,Nice compilation. your comments were closed and so wanted to mention that we at provide private tutoring to those interested in subjects like accounting, finance, statistics, etc. Do add us if you do a similar post again.ThanksSM

    2. fredwilson


  21. Adrian Sanders

    Recent member at GA – i think the need for a community forum / network is really crucial.The other thing would be books / additional resources in the “library” that were hand selected / curated by mentors / entrepreneurs.

  22. perfy

    ” I have friends who find themselves at this place in their career, who are starting Internet based businesses but they don’t have the background and experience to make the right choices. “And you wonder why there is a bubble. Take a $100 class and be the next internet entrepreneur!

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t wonder why there is a bubblecan you point me to somewhere where i wrote that?

  23. Nihal Parthasarathi

    Fred,I believe we chatted briefly a few months ago about – we aggregate local classes to make it as easy as possible for New Yorkers to find and enroll in them.We currently have over 3,000 classes in all subjects, and have just begun contacting local technical schools (including General Assembly) about including their programs within our catalog, since we received several requests during our beta launch for these classes. Already, NY PHP has posted its classes, but within a month, we expect to have many more.We officially launch in about a week, but I welcome everyone to our beta site here: http://beta.coursehorse.comAny feedback would be greatly appreciated!Nihal



      1. Nihal Parthasarathi

        Thanks for the feedback – you’re very right, we’re still ironing out the last kinks in our search algorithm. You should find both of those issues fixed now.Glad you like the 30 day challenge and our UX!

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. fredwilson

      let me know when you launch and i’ll update this post with a link to your service

      1. Nihal Parthasarathi

        Will certainly let you know, thanks Fred

      2. Nihal Parthasarathi

        CourseHorse has officially launched!http://coursehorse.comAlso, we just partnered with New Horizons, one of the largest providers of tech classes in the city, and have begun posting their classes.Please reach out if you have any questions: [email protected]!

    3. Roger White

      do you know of any on west coast… san diego, san francisco

      1. Nihal Parthasarathi

        Sorry Roger, not sure what your options on the west coast are, but hopefully we’ll be there soon enough!

  24. alandd

    Interesting idea.This is something the community is doing in Chandler, AZ (southeast of Phoenix). Through classes at Gangplank ( one can learn different programming and business topics. The big difference is that attendance to the classes is no-cost. It is a community building the community!See for all the classes available.

  25. RJ Johnston

    For those of you who do not have access to this type of bootstrap training, Mozilla P2PU is a promising alternative.

  26. Boris Fowler

    Co-working spaces are really effective for me because I like the business and the fast paced environment.NYC is a fun town, I would love to get to know the startup scene there one day.

  27. ShanaC

    I did Girl Develop it. I can speak that it was an extremely positive experience – and that there were a wide variety of ages there as well

    1. fredwilson

      i am so happy that you liked it shana. i am a big fan of sara’s

  28. Ross Noble

    This is awesome! If you’re in Montreal, check out a similar class program starting at the Notman House: http://notmanhouse.pbworks….

  29. sigmaalgebra

    There is a serious question if ‘courses’ are needed or even worthwhile for learning computing.Here I will try to make such learning easier, much easier.If you want to work from and share insights with others, then fine and good, but the Internet and a telephone should be sufficient for such things.The main learning is not a spectator sport and requires finding, reading, typing, trying, and learning. The outline below may be enough to get you going quite well, from zero to a nice Web site.As I’ve mentioned too often on this blog, my view is that the most powerful material for the future of computing is outside of computing and computer science. My candidate for the most powerful material is some selected topics in advanced pure and applied math, but at least 99 44/100% of the people interested in computing will set that point aside. Other material that might be of value can be nearly anything in the arts and sciences college catalogs or nearly anything elsewhere in business or life, depending on what one wants to do.For the computing itself, do what nearly everyone has done in computing so far: Be largely self-taught; that approach has some huge advantages now with cheap, powerful computing and the Internet.Let’s get through this stuff, quickly, via the topics:(1) Computers.(2) The Internet.(3) Operating Systems.(4) Programming.(5) Database.(6) Web Sites.(7) The Practical ChallengesOn to it:(1) Computers.(1.1) Data Representation.A ‘bit’ is a 0 or a 1. All the data in computing is transmitted, stored, and processed just as bits. Eight bits are a ‘byte’, and still commonly printable characters are stored one per byte. For more, look up Unicode and UTF-8 at Wikipedia and see how to work with about 1.1 million different characters that cover essentially all the languages in the world; quite broadly computing can work easily and directly with all those characters now.(1.2) To store a number, computing usually uses 4 or 8 bytes per number. For whole numbers, the bits are used essentially as base 2, that is, binary. For numbers represented much as in scientific notation, e.g., 3.14.592654 x 10^5, the representation is via ‘floating point’. The most popular scheme now is a standard from the IEEE engineering society.(1.3) For a computer, imagine a guy at a hotel desk with a calculator on the desk and cubbyholes on the wall behind him. The cubbyholes are sequentially numbered, 0, 1, 2, …. These cubbyholes are ‘main memory’, and the numbers are the ‘addresses’.In each cubbyhole put either some data or an instruction. Then at the start of the day, the worker starts at cubbyhole 0, which has an instruction, and does it. The instruction manipulates data in the cubbyholes.The worker and the calculator are the central ‘processor’.Now a chip of silicon about the size of a postage stamp can have 1 to 8 such processors; then each processor is called one ‘core’ and the whole chip is now called one ‘processor’. Intel is now selling processors with 40 cores and has indicated that they can make processors with 1000 cores that can work together effectively. Such chips will continue to change the world.(1.4) Virtualization.A ‘program’ is a collection of instructions for a processor core. As above, one program ‘sees’ main memory addresses 0, 1, …. Then ‘virtual memory’ tweaks the electronics so that such memory is now called an ‘address space’ and (via clever use of disk storage as below) can be larger than the actual main memory, and one computer can have dozens of such address spaces.Everything so far can be called one ‘virtual machine’, and the hardware and software can be tweaked to let one real computer run several virtual machines at once.These ideas are not nearly new: Multiple cores, virtual memory, and virtual machines go back at least to the IBM 360/67 of 1967 and the software CP67/CMS. Since then the performance has gone up by a factor or many thousands and the price (weight, volume, electrical power needed) down by a factor of many thousands.(1.5) Speeds and Capacities.In an orchestra, everything is in synchronization with the beat, and, similarly, in a processor everything is in synchronization with ticks of a processor ‘clock’. So, there might be 4 operations per clock tick or 10 clock ticks per operation.The original IBM PC had a clock with 4.4 million ticks per second (million Hertz, MHz). Now clock speeds are commonly about 3 billion ticks per second (gigahertz, GHz). The main reason for multiple cores is that for now clock speeds much faster than 3 GHz generate too much heat in the processor.The main memory size of the original IBM PC was 512,000 bytes. Now main memory sizes are commonly 4 billion bytes (gigabytes, GB).The memory addresses have long been 32 bits long which permits addressing 4 billion bytes. Now computing is changing to using 64 bits for memory addresses which is permitting main memory much larger. HP has been selling a 32 core computer with main memory of 2 trillion bytes (TB). Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 operating system permits virtual memory sizes up to 16 trillion bytes (TB).These numbers are astounding and are revolutionizing the world.(1.6) Storage.If get some iron, let it rust, grind it, and put in on a surface, then can record bits as little magnetic dots in the iron and also read the bits back. This use of iron has been the fundamental idea of magnetic tape and disk storage for decades. Now can get tape cassettes that can store 1 TB and disk storage in size 4 x 5.75 x 1 inches that can store 2 TB or so. The disks rotate usually at 7200 RPM up to about twice that.’Flash’ memory is just electronic, has no moving parts, is now being used for ‘solid state disks’ (SSDs) replacing rotating magnetic disks, is much faster than rotating disks, and is available in sizes up to about 1 TB.(1.7) Low Level Communications.Communications outside of a computer are usually via Ethernet, and now the standard speeds are 10, 100, 1000, and 10,000 million bits per second.(1.8) Files.For a programmer and most advanced computer users, what they think of as the crucial data on their computer is in files. Now a ‘file’ is, at least logically, a sequence of bytes. So, a file might be empty. Otherwise it will have bytes 1, 2, ….When the power is off, essentially all the data in the computer is in such files.Still some of the most important files are much like just lines of text as in old typing. Typically each line is ended with a character CR (‘carriage return’) and LF (‘line feed’).(1.9) Directories (‘Folders’).Each file is in a ‘directory’. A directory can also contain other directories. So, there is a ‘file system’ with a ‘directory tree’.This tree can be used as a ‘taxonomic hierarchy’ for organizing nearly all data for nearly everything.(1.10) Typing.It is still necessary to type, especially in programming.My view is that it is best to find a really good ‘text editor’ and do nearly all typing for nearly everything, including posting at, into that one, favorite text editor. The one I use is KEdit, and I’m thrilled with it.It will take a few days to learn KEdit and a few more days to learn to write little programs in its elegant macro language, but KEdit is much easier to learn than either Word or Excel and even easier than Outlook.(2) The Internet.An old phone call had a dedicated ‘circuit’ between the two parties, but for data, and now also for voice, that design is too inefficient.Heavily from some work by the US DoD Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA), we now have the Internet and TCP/IP.TCP/IP is something of an electronic version of the USPS for postcards: Each address is 32 bits long for about 4 billion addresses. To send a message, get a stack of postcards called ‘packets’. On one side of each card, put the to and from addresses. On the other side put one part of the message, and, since are using several cards, sequentially number the cards.Drop the cards into a local USPS Post Office from which they get sorted multiple times and reach their destination.Such a sorter is called an ‘internet protocol’ (IP) ‘router’, and US sources include Cisco, Juniper, etc.With IP, if a router gets too busy, then it can just throw away packets. So, IP is not reliable.The role of ‘transmission control protocol’ (TCP) is to make IP reliable. TCP is the work at the ends, that is, of just the to and from addresses; the IP routers do not care. Basically the to address notices missing packets and requests that they be sent again.All communications on the Internet are based on IP, and nearly all also use TCP.The hardware and software for TCP/IP are called a ‘stack’.(3) Operating Systems.A computer without some programs (‘software’) is hardly smarter than a pine board.The software that makes the computer appear to be useful is the ‘operating system’, and leading operating systems are high among the most complicated software yet written.Currently there are two main choices for operating systems, versions of Unix and versions of Windows.(4) Programming.(4.1) Basics.The instructions for a processor are very elementary. It usually takes some thousands of such instructions to do anything very meaningful to users. Writing such instructions directly is possible but too tedious.So, software is written in ‘higher level programming languages’ and then, with more software, ‘translated’, usually via a few levels, before the processor gets the corresponding instructions.Some programming languages, e.g., C, C++, Visual Basic .NET, C#, old Fortran and PL/I, are usually ‘compiled’ which means that, eventually, there is a file, commonly with file type EXE, of instructions the operating system can read into main memory and direct the processor to execute.Otherwise a program can be ‘interpreted’ which is much like a human would do the work — look at the language statements and just do what they say without generating any new machine instructions. Interpretive languages can be 10 times slower but easier to use.The main ideas in programming have remained largely the same for decades:(A) See what data the program needs to have access to, for each such ‘chunk’ of data, give it a name (commonly mnemonic), and request main memory address space for it.(B) Manipulate the data with expressions (much like high school algebra), statements If-Then, and repetitive ‘loops’ such as Do-While.(C) Use the standard problem solving technique ‘divide and conquer’ by partitioning the programming into relatively small pieces using subroutines, functions, and classes.So, we have the ABCs of programming.All the heavily used programming languages are very similar, much more similar than French, Italian, Spanish, and English.Still essentially all programs are typed in just as lines of ordinary text, essentially the same as old typing. A good text editor remains a good way to type in software.Each programming language has a ‘grammar’ that defines its ‘syntax’. ‘Parsing’ is reading the program and seeing if it is legal in the grammar. So, can regard one programming ‘language’ as just the set of all programs legal in the grammar. There is some modified set theory notation called Bachus-Naur form (BNF) for defining a language, and there are ‘compiler generators’ that will automatically write the software to check if a program is legal; this work was considered a major step forward in computer science. Occasionally you will see BNF or related notation defining programming languages, etc.The syntax does not fully define the language; also important are the ‘semantics’.You just learned nearly all you will need to know about one of the more important topics in all of ‘computer science’. Congratulations.(4.2) Documentation.There can be little so obscure as a program written six months ago. To change such a program, it is common just to throw it away and start over which can cost time and, thus, money.To save the time and money, explain the program, that is, ‘document’ it. The amount of documentation needed varies over a wide range from just a few lines to millions of words (e.g., an operating system).The documentation is supposed to communicate information, and, bluntly, there is only one way to do that — a natural language such as English, hopefully well written English. Even advanced pure math (e.g., Bourbaki) is written this way. The idea that mnemonic names alone are a good substitute is a long walk on a short pier.An grand example of profoundly good technical writing is a good freshman physics text: There we see a lot of mathematical symbols, but each symbol is ONLY an abbreviation of concepts well explained with, say, English. Computing can learn from this example.My view is that documentation to make code and software meaningful to humans is currently one of the main bottlenecks to progress in computing.So, document your work, and good English with a good text editor is one of the best ways.(5) Database.Suppose we have a lot of data to store about customers, products, inventory, or whatever. We want this data in files.If we start programming now, then we will be taking a very well traveled short walk on a much shorter pier.By 1970, the problem was quite well understood, and by 1980 the solution was in good shape. The solution is relational database. If you fight it, then in nearly all cases you will lose.Think of an IRS 1040 form. The form has ‘fields’. Give each field a name and note its ‘data type’, that is, numeric, alphabetic, date, SSN, etc.Now suppose have 1 million completed 1040 forms. Put all that data into a ‘table’. Each form has its own ‘row’ of the table. So the table has 1 million rows. Each field with a name and data type is one ‘column’ of the table. One or several such tables are a ‘database’.Can decide to ‘index’ the table on, say, SSN.Simple. Dirt simple. But the software to work with relational database with good ease of use, high performance in large scale production, bet your business reliability, etc., is one of the crown jewels of computing. E.g., you can backup a relational database system while it continues to do work on-line (hard exercise: figure out a way to make that work!). Relational database was heavily from M. Blasgen at Yorktown Heights and E. Wong at Berkeley. Results can be had today via DB2, MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, etc.(6) Web Sites.To go from the above to a reasonably complicated Web site with data in a relational database, here is one path:Get some really simple materials on ‘hypertext markup language’ (HTML), various books or just:…GetJim Buyens, ‘Web Database Development, Step by Step: .NET Edition’, ISBN 0-7356-1637-X, Microsoft Press, Redmond, Washington, 2002.which will get you going with Visual Basic .NET programming, relational database, and Web site construction.Note: Programming language discussions quickly get into hopeless religious arguments. Microsoft has become ‘language agnostic’. They decided that what was crucial was their ‘common language run-time’ (CLR) software and their .NET Framework software. .NET is enormous, has nearly every small software part or piece ever found useful, e.g., can take a time and date in Japanese format and one in Russian format and find the number of days between them.Then any language that will let programmers use the CLR and .NET is just a different flavor of ‘syntactic sugar’. Of such languages, the easiest to learn, read, and use is Visual Basic .NET (that is, the more recent versions of Visual Basic and not the old versions). Don’t worry: It’s a good programming language but poorly named and not particularly ‘visual’.But get some more books, often from Microsoft Press, on Visual Basic, ASP.NET (for writing Web pages), ADO.NET (for working with relational database), and SQL Server relational database.Get more information from the Microsoft Web sites (you will need maybe 1500 Web pages out of the thousands Microsoft has) and elsewhere on the Internet, and find information with Google.Then start reading, typing, trying, and learning. Eventually if not right away, that will be your main, and maybe only, way to learn.(7) The Practical Challenges.Nearly all of software development remains a conceptually simple field.Today nearly all of applications programming is like an architect that designs a house and then builders who mostly just assemble pre-made parts according to the architecture.The main problem is understanding how to use the parts; for that the main problem is bad documentation; and the main reason for that is that neither the ‘humanities major’ ‘writers’ nor the technical parts builders knew how to write technical documentation.A language such as Visual Basic .NET is mostly just the means of joining together the pre-made parts and not very challenging.The worst challenges in documentation are for system administration and management, but you will not encounter those problems until later.

  30. daryn

    I’m a huge fan of this, and General Assembly has done a fantastic job so far on all fronts – co-working, community, and education.I’d love to create something similar here in Seattle.

  31. RocketSpace

    I think the ageism comment is over blown. I agree that the 20 year old CEO tends to get the press and attention but here is a quick poll…RocketSpace is a shared office space for Post Incubator, Seed Funded Tech and New Media Startups in San Francisco. We are 9 weeks old and have 42 companies in the space (about 160 people so far) The very nature of our selection process would suggest all the companies have had acceptance in the investment community. I probably can’t legally ask the founders their age but here is my best guess. (I am 39)4 Founders are in the 20 – 25 range7 in the 25 – 307 in the 30 – 354 in the 35 – 4010 in the 40 – 455 in the 45+(We have a couple of companies who are based out of NYC and I don’t know the founders.)I think it is noticeable that all the companies, even though small are highly populated with young people. Young people who presumably believe in the abilities of the founder to build a successful business.The mix is key, having 2nd and 3rd time entreprenuers in the space is crucial.

    1. fredwilson

      i din’t think my post was ageist. i was just posting about stuff i am seeing in real life.

      1. Rick Wingender

        Simply put, all ages have something valuable to contribute. If I were founding a company right now, I would make a concerted effort to have employees of all ages. However. as far as leadership is concerned, there is no substitute for having been around the proverbial block a few times. It will save your ass.As an aside, let me add that a bit of experience sometimes can be simultaneously frustrating and humorous. For example, in my own company, I love listening to people talk about consumer behavior “discoveries” that they’ve made. Discoveries?? I used to run big box retail stores for Best Buy, Circuit City, and others, years ago, in a commissioned environment. It’s the best training ground possible for learning about what consumers really want, and how they really behave. It was a great training ground for running a business (before the days when everything was sooo formulaic and corporate made all decisions). These things that are now considered “discoveries” are not new to me AT ALL. I have experiences that 20-somethings can’t even fathom. Oh, and by the way, bell-bottom jeans are NOT a new invention, kiddies.

  32. SVE

    There’s the “Big Problem” you are solving with your “Big Idea” and the “Tech” that implements it. The internet is indeed a hugely powerful means to solve many problems. This accounts for the great interest among investors to back companies in the space. But identifying the Big Problem and having the Big Idea on how to best address it is not unique to the 30-and-under crowd. “It’s friday night, where are my friends and what are they doing?” is a devastating problem for younger people, begging for a solution – (foursquare, twitter, facebook). They have unique insight to this problem, the solution and the tech. But there are other equally big real problems out there as well that 50’s folks would have a much better handle on (cancer, energy, divorce, elder care, etc). They’d have 2 out of 3 of the ingredients (big problem, big idea) and would have to acquire the 3rd – tech. Contrast this to younger folks who may have Tech but not the Big Idea or Big Problem . Kudos to Fred for acknowledging this.

    1. Guest

      Your comment paints a nice illustration. I happen to agree. However, I think Fred’s post was really more slanted towards availability of some cool educational resources. Hen just lead the story with a comment about age. The remainder of the post was really about some educational accessibility options. I mean no offense to Fred but David’s comments really got the discussion going around age. Fred does deserve kudos for building a strong base of readers and commentators that discuss and share ideas and run with an idea.

      1. Guest

        Ooops, meant to say “He just lead the story….” not “Hen”

  33. howardlindzon

    Often said that there should be a Devry or Apollo for this and TechStars is the right brand to do it…..i wish cohen and feld had a little vision … 🙂

    1. Harry DeMott

      Couldn’t agree more Howard. I have some ideas about that.



    1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

      Interesting, so you are saying different behaviour for different circumstances, as appropriate?



  35. JLM

    I cannot remember being more entertained than reading today’s posts. The idea that youthful inexperience is an advantage in the marketplace is laughable.When really old guys who run countries disagree, they throw 20-somethings at each other until one of them runs out of gullible 20-somethings to bleed.When Muslim bomb makers are looking for a carrier pigeon, who do they lure with the promise of 72 virgins? 20-somethings!While of course the old guys are frolicking with a trio of well experienced and creative courtesans. Experience triumphs over youth every time.So, why do you think all those 20-somethings are getting funded?Because the old farts are stealing their brains, life force and pocketing all their lucre while the smug 20-somethings are smugly celebrating their “success”!It doesn’t get easier than this. You’re dying for the chance to make old farts richer and richer and when they let you keep a pittance you bay at the moon.Just kidding, ya’ll! But maybe not?

    1. Volnado

      JLM – I am glad you are from the south (for thou hath spoketh the alimighty ya’ll). Maybe you and GWB can get along because you are both “straight talkers”. I took your reply to the heart and I thank you. A great writer in dear sweet New Orleans likes to say Only The Truth Is Funny.

      1. JLM

        GWB was one of the best governors in the history of Texas and became a profligate spender as President. Nobody in Texas can figure out how or why.

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Right once again, except it becomes more than old farts as the combination of quick risers and trust fund babies fund smaller visions.Setting to the side the chance of the older funding 20 somethings with the mission of showing them what they can truly do, hopefully the Law of Accelerating Returns allows a faster realization for the younger person regarding what is truly going on.

    3. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

      JLM – Tell that to Steve Ballmer who is being given the run-around by Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.And the only reason ‘experienced’ older generationers have money is because they’ve spent so long trying to accumulate it. What chance does the younger generation stand when they have to play by the rules set by the previous generation trying to protect what they have? Look at the wars we are being told about in the media – old wealth trying to gain yet more wealth. Youngsters around the world are jobless, (almost) penniless and have the support of… ?I live in the United Kingdom. We try to export democracy, yet we don’t elect our leader and we cannot hold politicians accountable in any way shape or form. We try to fiddle the jobless figures by shoehorning young people into university, commoditising degrees and giving every graduate the false promise of higher earnings for the same amount of work. The US is probably in better shape because not EVERYONE wants to be a ‘manager’. Here, the middle classes are being trapped into middle management.I have immense amounts of respect for everyone, let alone people who have vastly more experience than I do. What I find offensive are one-sided views that there is no advantage to youth. It’s not about disruption, it isn’t even about experience; it SHOULD all be about responsibility. Without a sense of responsibility to each other, what do we have?There is always more than one side to every story. In one circumstance, experience is what you need. In another, it is wreckless risktaking (look at the poker players taking that game by storm at the moment). And in yet other situations you need a nice balance of both.To finish with something to think about: what advantage does the world and its economies gain from making old people wealthy at the expense of educating and enriching the next generation? Sure thanks to fiat currency wealth isn’t a zero sum game, but pretend that it is.

      1. JLM

        The UK tries to export democracy? LOLNo, really?The UK with its archaic and ridiculous royalty and House of Lords exports failure — how else can you explain the loss of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, S Africa, Hong Kong and —- drum roll — the United States?

        1. markslater

          oh lord. S. Africa? JLM – had a tipple on the plane?

  36. Roland Haddad

    I look forward to see more free online internet education about the different areas of knowledge needed for someone to take off in the internet industry. This should be available to everyone irrespective of their age. Khan Academy, credited by others here in some comments has set a beautiful example on how this can be achieved.

  37. Volnado

    Ahhh I need these in New Orleans. Perhaps I might have to come spend a week up there just to take these courses bc I pay people to do stuff like this but I dont have hands on knowledge of say html5 which is core to what my company does.Ok fred can you solve that for people like me around the world?Get these classes online for people to pay and virtually learn the stuff! If they had like the cisco connected classroom stuff I would totally go somewhere in New Orleans and take this class remotely with others.More revenue for them … more learning for the world. Flatten the playing field for web entrepreneurship so the next great ideamen can speed up their idea to product time.

  38. Rok Krulec


  39. Dave W Baldwin

    Message to those commenting about ‘F’ing 50. At this time, the gain in lifespan is more than 1 year each year. I know that is figuring avg’s overall, but cut this bullshit regarding 50 is old.IMHO, it comes down to prove how smart/visionary you really are. We can forgive a 20 yr. old who thinks it is disruptive to do some simple little improvement to something already established. If you have the brains of a 50 yr old, you should be able to see the pieces needed to do something truly disruptive.Choice comes down to getting out of the way, be at mercy of outside entity delivering the promise of money when you’re 70, or make a difference.

  40. terrencemurray

    I am also fan of co-working space. I actually am a user, here in Chicago (…. It has been a real time saver in terms of building my business. If I need to talk to an html / web developer — I just walk to the developer renting a few pods down. I need help to edit… Freelance or copy writers are also there, members of the diverse and self starting community that make up our co-working space. There has been a lot of talk about a so-called U.S. malaise or decline. Spend a few days at a co-working space in Chicago or New York or out west opens your eyes to the creativity, and fearless entrepreneurship that continues to be very much alive in this country.

  41. Rick Wingender

    Fred – I too live and work in the e-commerce world. Any educational program worth it’s salt needs to be available online. You shouldn’t have to live in NYC to learn about programming, e-commerce, e-marketing, and so on. That’s why we have browsers, live chat, discussion forums, and video conferencing.

  42. Kim

    Does anyone know of any similar type classes in Silicon Valley, CA? Thanks!!!

  43. Adrian Meli

    It’s a great idea and there is clearly a movement to more cheaper/higher quality classes than the tradtiional and for profit schools provide for. I guess the next step will have to be some type of certification for content?

  44. Jim from

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but some of your posts are popping up on dailybiztips.comThe goal of the site is to post great articles every day that can teach people about different facets of business from various bloggers. If you have any recommendations on resourceful content, I’d love to here them.I know you can read everything with RSS feeds but I’m trying to make it easier on people by sorting through it for them and putting it all on one site.

  45. Jim from

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but some of your posts are popping up on dailybiztips.comThe goal of the site is to post great articles every day that can teach people about different facets of business from various bloggers. If you have any recommendations on resourceful content, I’d love to here them.I know you can read everything with RSS feeds but I’m trying to make it easier on people by sorting through it for them and putting it all on one site.

  46. Jim from

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but some of your posts are popping up on dailybiztips.comThe goal of the site is to post great articles every day that can teach people about different facets of business from various bloggers. If you have any recommendations on resourceful content, I’d love to here them.I know you can read everything with RSS feeds but I’m trying to make it easier on people by sorting through it for them and putting it all on one site.

  47. Gary Sharma

    Fred, we aggregate classes from General Assembly, New Work City, Hive at 55, FordhamTec, NYC Resistor and a few others here … http://newyork.garysguide.o

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks GaryYour guide sounds greatI will check it out

  48. Roger White

    why all NYC why not west coast or mid-west

  49. Tiffany Tesfamichael

    Hi Fred, I’m Tiffany Tesfamichael, and I work at The LearnShop. We are in live beta, and aggregate tutorials and learning experiences from a number of sources. We’re Atlanta-based, and a member of Georgia’s ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center). We are constantly adding new courses and are tracking them in about 25+ cities worldwide. Thanks for the great post and calling attention to the need for more resources like ours.