Generation Of Computer

In 1960’s decade a convention was organized to clarify the generation of computer by the compute scientists.
At that time Two main components of the computer Memory(Storage) and Processing devices were taken to divide the generation. Now, computer are defined in five generations.

First Generation OF Computer (1943-1958)

The storage media or memory used in the first generation computer was vacuum tube.
The storage media or memory used in the first generation computer was vacuum tube. These computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory. A magnetic drum is a metal cylinder coated with iron-oxide material on which data and programs can be stored. Input was based on punched cards and paper tape, and output was based on printouts. These computers relied on machine level language and were able to solve one problem at a time. It was cumbersome to relate the program and debug.
ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first electronic general computer. It used vacuum tubes (18,000) and could do 300 multiplications per second.
vacum tubes

  • It used valve or vacuum tubes.
  • Storage capacity were very small.( 1 to 4 K)
  • Low speed, processing speed in terms of millisecond.
  • They were huge in size.
  • They were used for special purpose only.
  • These computers were non-portable and with very slow equipment.
  • Maintenance was requires time to time. Because the computer size was huge and contained many manual parts.
  • It was difficult to link the program.
  • It was also too difficult to write program for logical and mathematical operation.
  • Commercial productions of these computers were very costly.
  • A vacuum tube contains a filament and they have short life. Because of the use of thousands of vacuum tubes these computer were prone to frequent failure.
  • Each vacuum tube consumed about half a watt of power. There were thousands of vacuum tubes so the consumption of power was very high.
  • It was More heat generating.
  • It was only the calculating device that was discovered at that time.
  • Examples: MARK-I, ENIAC, EDVAC, EDSAC, E101 etc.

Second Generation Of Computer (1958-1965)

The computers using transistors as storage media were classified as second Generation computers. One transistor could do the task of 1000 vacuum tubes. A transistor is made up of semiconductors materials like germanium and silicon. It contains three leads and performs electrical functions. A transistor is a small device and so the size of second generation computers was relatively smaller than the first generation computers. Computers were much faster and reliable. They had greater computing capacity. Computers became smaller, faster, cheaper, energy-efficient and more reliable than the first generation computer.
The notable point of this generation computer is that it used Assembly language and supported early high level languages like COBOL, FORTRAN etc.

  • It used transistor.
  • It is the generation from which the first main memory started.
  • Processing speed increased up to nanosecond.
  • High speed and small in size in comparison to the first generation.
  • Magnetic core memory was used as the internal storage.
  • Magnetic tapes were used as secondary storage devices.
  • Assembly language was used to program computers and programming became more time-sharing and less cumbersome.
  • They had better portability and were less prone to hardware failure as in first generation computer.
  • Could understand high level language as COBOL, FORTRAN, ALGOL, SNOBOL,
  • Input and output devices were faster in comparison to the first generation.
  • But were also huge in size and generated a large amount of heat but lower than previous generation.
  • Examples: IBM 650, UNIAC(-II, 5580,5590,1107), LEO mark III, ATLAS, ICT 13000, IBM P4000,IBM (7070, 7080, 7090, 1400)

Third Generation of Computer (1965-1973)

Third Generation computers were general-purpose computers. In 1964, International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation announced its system 360 family of mainframe computers. They are much faster as they used small chips containing thousands of parts integrated in them.
Third Generation computers were general-purpose computers. In 1964, International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation announced its system 360 family of mainframe computers. They are much faster as they used small chips containing thousands of parts integrated in them. It used IC which consists of components such as transistors and resistors fabricated on it. and printouts Instead of punch cards, it used keyboard and monitors and also interfaced with an operating system. This made the computer very small, fast and reliable than predecessors. Floppy disks. Hard disk, taps of card were used in this generation of computers. Large scale integration (LSI) about 20,000 transistors.

  • Use of cache memory started from this generation onwards.
  • It used the IC Integrated Circuit
  • Semi-conductor was used as the primary storage.
  • Supported different high level language.
  • Were small, elegant, efficient and reliable computers.
  • Multiprocessing and multi programming in nature.
  • Manual assembling of components was not required and hence commercial production became easier and cheaper.
  • Since, these computer were prone to less hardware failure, the production of this computer became cheap and easier.
  • Manufacture of IC was very tedious and costly.
  • Example: VAX 11/780, ICT 1900 series, UNIVAC 1108/9000 series ,IBM System 360 series

Fourth Generation of Computer (1973- 1990)

While third generation computers saw the use of integrated circuits in building computers, the fourth generation is characterized by the increased number of circuits, allows more data to be stored on a memory chip. Large Scale Integration (LSI) and very large scale integration (VLSI), allows memory chips having thousands of storage locations. Ultra Large Scale Integration (ULSI) squeezed thousands of components into a single chip. Fourth generation computers have microprocessor, which have serial numbers. The serial numbers indicates the capability of computer and speed as well.
The Intel 4004(10) chip, which was developed in 1971, replaced the IC and led to the present era computers which are faster, easier to use and cheap. These commuters are more powerful, compact, reliable and affordable. The most significant features of this generation computers are that these can be used to interconnect computer which ultimately gave rise to internet. It used the features of Graphics User Interface.

  • It used VLSI very Large Scale Integration Circuit.
  • VLSIC is also known as the microprocessor.
  • Size varied from desktop to palmtop.
  • These are portable and reliable.
  • Interconnection of computers leads to better communication and resource sharing.
  • The production cost was very less.
  • Capable of understanding billions of instructions at a certain time.
  • User friendly and support numerous high level language.
  • Secondary storage devices with very high storage capacity and use of semiconductors.
  • Multiprocessing and multiprogramming features in advance nature.
  • The main defect of fourth generation computer is that technology changes very soon.
  • Examples: XT, AT, IBM PC, MACINTOSH, LETRON. etc

Fifth Generation of Computer (1982-Now)

The idea of fifth generation concept is developed in the process of development of a computer with massive performance and Massive Parallel Computing. This is result of massive government/industry research by japan in 1980s. It’s target is to provide super performance like Super Computer with Artificial Intelligence(AI).

The fifth generation computers are still in the discovery stages that are thought to use biochip or parallel processor. The processor will contain millions of electronic components on a single chip. It is targeted that fifth generation computer will understand and respond to the natural languages and will be very advanced to understand and think as human being.

  • The computers after fourth generation are called fifth generation and uses parallel chips or bio chips.
  • It has the features of Artificial Intelligence.
  • It is still in the stage of development.
  • It will respond to natural language. (NLP-Natural Language Processing)


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