If quantum computing is the next great leap forward in computing, taking us beyond the capabilities of supercomputers, then IBM wants the public to come along.

In what IBM (NYSE: IBM) calls “a seminal moment in computing,” Big Blue is making available to the public access to a quantum processor. The tech giant wants to inspire people to experiment, to “play with individual quantum bits” known as qubits, and to “get inspired.”

IBM is calling it the “Quantum Experience.” And this could be big news.

Researchers have built a quantum processor that “users can access through a first-of-a-kind quantum computing platform delivered via the IBM Cloud,” Big Blue announced.

It’s even accessible through mobile devices.

The news made early Wednesday ignited a flurry of headlines on the web around the world. Some samples:

  • IBM Wants Everyone to Try a Quantum Computer – New York Times
  • IBM Just Made A Powerful Research Tool Available To Everyone For Free – Fortune
  • IBM Research hooks up quantum processor to cloud for test drive – ZDNet
  • IBM Makes Quantum Computing Available to Anyone – Newsweek

“This is a seminal moment in computing,” says IBM’s Dario Gil, the vice president for Science and Solutions at IBM Research, in a blog.

“When we look back years from now, I believe we will see today as the beginning of the road to a truly practical quantum computer, which, when it’s built, will be one of the greatest milestones in the history of information technology.

“Today we’re laying the foundation by inviting anyone interested to create algorithms and run experiments on IBM’s quantum processor, play with individual quantum bits (qubits), learn about quantum computing through tutorials and simulations, and get inspired by the possibilities of a quantum computer.”

Here’s how IBM explains the Quantum Experience:

“IBM believes quantum computing is the future of computing and has the potential to solve certain problems that are impossible to solve on today’s supercomputers. The cloud-enabled quantum computing platform, called IBM Quantum Experience, will allow users to run algorithms and experiments on IBM’s quantum processor, work with the individual quantum bits (qubits), and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing. The quantum processor is composed of five superconducting qubits and is housed at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York. The five-qubit processor represents the latest advancement in IBM’s quantum architecture that can scale to larger quantum systems. It is the leading approach towards building a universal quantum computer.

“A universal quantum computer can be programmed to perform any computing task and will be exponentially faster than classical computers for a number of important applications for science and business.”

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