The history of the development of computer is often referred to in tracing the different generations of computing devices. Each generation of computer is characterized by a major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computer’s operated resulting in increasingly smaller, cheaper, more powerful and efficient, and reliable devices.
First Generation (1942-1955)
The first generation computers were entirely electronic. They used vacuum tubes to store instructions. Magnetic drums were used for memory. They were often enormous, taking up the entire room. They were very expensive to operate and in addition to using a great deal of electricity, generated a lot of heat which often needed expansive air-conditioning. First-generation computers relied on machine language (1s and 0s), the lowest-level programming language understood by computers, to perform operations, and they could solve only one problem at a time.
The UNIVAC 1, ENIAC, and Mark 1 computers are examples of first-generation computing devices. The UNIVAC was the first commercial electronic computer. This machine was developed especially for scientific and military purposes but it was dedicated to a business client, the U.S. Census Bureau in 1951.
Second Generation (1955-1964)
In the second generation of computers, solid-state transistors replaced vacuum tubes in computers. It was invented in Bell Laboratories.
The transistor was far superior than the vacuum tube, allowing computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy-efficient and more reliable. To represent data a magnetic core is used in computers. At about the same time magnetic tape and disks began to be widely used as an auxiliary storage. Magnetic disk was layered by iron oxide. Magnetic disks made possible direct access of data.
As a result of these developments, a significant increase in the speed and processing capability of computers was achieved. Businessmen began to use computers in increasing numbers and new high-level programming languages also developed at this time, such as early versions of COBOL and FORTRAN.
Third Generation (1965-1974)
Further development in electronics brought further reduction in size, greater reliability, speed, and lower costs computer. Integrated Circuits (IC) replaced the transistors, which was developed by J.S. Kilbi. This was the hallmark of the third generation of computers.
This development is known as LSI (Large Scale Integration) and it refers to the ability to compress a large number of integrated circuits on a single silicon chip. There is also VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration).
Another development that changed the way people use computers was time-sharing. A time-shared computer allows many users, each working at a separate input/ output terminal, to use it at the same time.
Users interacted with third-generation computers through keyboards and monitors and interfaced with an operating system, which allowed the device to run many different applications at one time with a central program that monitored the memory. Computers for the first time became accessible to mass users because they were smaller and cheaper than their predecessors. Users could use the software according to their needs because Software and hardware were available separately.
Fourth Generation (1975- Up till now)
Fourth Generation computers continued to be characterized by chips that can contain increasing numbers of items. This further miniaturization of components, referred to as ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration), resulted in increased speed, greater reliability, and enormous storage capacities for current computers.
By using LSI technology, microprocessor was introduced. This microprocessor brought the fourth generation of computers, as thousands of integrated circuits were built onto a single silicon chip. The computer of the first generation that filled an entire room could now fit in the palm of the hand. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the components of the computer from the CPU and memory to input/ output controls on a single chip. In 1981 IBM introduced its first computer for the home user, and in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh. Microprocessors also moved out of the realm of desktop computers and into many areas of life. Everyday products such as vehicles, microwave oven and electronic games, etc. began to use microprocessors more and more.
As these small computers became more powerful, they could be linked together to form a network, which eventually led to the development of the Internet. Fourth-generation computers also saw the development of GUIs, the mouse, and handhold devices.
Fifth Generation (Present and Beyond)
Unlike all other generation computers, the present generation of computers is characterized by the use of the technique used to reduce complex programming. This technique is known as Artificial Intelligence (Al). Fifth-generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence, are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition that are being used today.
|First Generation||1. Use of vacuum tubes in circuits.|
2. Use of magnetic drum as the primary internal storage medium.
3. Limited main storage capacity.
4. Slow input/ output.
5. Low-level symbolic language programming.
6. Heat and maintenance problem.
Applications: Payroll processing and record-keeping.
Example: ENIAC, IBM 650, UNIVAC 1
|Second Generation||1. Use of transistors in the place of vacuum tubes.|
2. Use of magnetic core as the primary internal storage medium.
3. Increased main storage capacity.
4. Faster input/ output.
5. Great reduction in size and heat generation.
6. Increased speed and reliability.
7. High-level programming language (COBOL and FORTRAN).
Applications: Batch-oriented (Billing, Payroll processing, and Updating inventory files).
Example: IBM 1401, Honeywell 200, CDC 1604.
|Third Generation||1. Use of IC (Integrated Circuit).|
2. Use of magnetic core as the primary storage medium.
3. More flexible input/ output.
4. Smaller size, better performance, and reliability.
5. Increased speed and better performance.
6. Extensive use of high-level programming languages.
7. Emergence of minicomputers. Remote processing and time-sharing through communication.
8. Availability of operating system software to control input/ output.
Applications: Airline reservation system, market forecasting, and credit card billing.
Example: IBM System /360, NCR 395, Burroughs B6500.
|Fourth Generation||1. Use of large-scale integrated circuits.|
2. Increased storage capacity and speed.
3. Modular design and compatibility between hardware provided by different manufacturers.
4. Greater versatility of input/ output devices.
5. Introduction of microprocessors and microcomputers.
6. Increased use of microcomputers.
Applications: Electronic fund transfer, computer-aided instruction, home computers and mathematical modeling and simulation.
Example: IBM PC-XT (microcomputer), Apple II, Honeywell 6080 series.
In which generation did multiprogramming start?
Multiprogramming was started in Third Generation.
Multics operating system for the mainframe was developed by?
Multics operating system for the mainframe was developed by Bell Laboratory.
Who is the Father of the Computer?
The Father of the Computer is Charles Babbage.
In which generation was the microprocessor introduced?
The microprocessor was introduced in the Fourth Generation.
In which country Abacus was developed?
Abacus was developed in China.