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The Generation of Modern Computer

  • The history of computer is often referred to in reference to the different generation of computer devices.
  • Most computers work using the idea of stored program computer technology.
  • The John Von Neumann architecture is based on three key concepts that are
  • Data and instruction are stored in a single read-write memory.
  • The memory contents are addressable by locations.
  • Execution takes place in a sequential fashion.

First Generation Computers (1940 - 56) - Vacuum Tubes

  • The first generation computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory.
  • Machine language was used to give instructions.
  • They are very enormous, occupies the entire room.
  • They are large in size and their programming was a difficult task.
  • They used stored procedure concept.
  • They used punched card and paper cards to give inputs.
  • Output was displayed as printouts using drum printers.
  • Some computers of this generation are as follows.
    • ENIAC - Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator.
    • EDVAC - Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer.
    • EDSAC - Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer.
    • UNIVAC - Universal Automatic Computers.
  • Application areas where such as Payroll system and record maintenance systems.
  • Batch processing is the data processing methodology implemented in this generation.

First generation computers

Note: In 1941, John W.Mauchly invented the ENIAC I, which was the electronic general purpose computer to be put into full operation.

Second Generation Computers (1956-1963)-Transistors

  • Transistor replaced Vacuum tubes, in this generation.
  • It was invented by Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley in the year 1946.
  • They are comparatively smaller in size and relatively faster in their processing.
  • They occupy only 1/10 of the power required by the tubes.
  • In this era magnetic core was invented for storage.
  • Magnetic cores were used to construct large random access memories.
  • It was developed using high level languages.
  • Punched cards were used as input device.
  • Punched cards and printout formats are used as output.
  • It uses High level languages like COBOL and FORTRAN for programming.
  • Multiprogramming and real time processing were its data processing methodologies.
  • Application areas are defence and government decisions.
  • Some computers of this generation are
    • IBM 1401
    • IBM 1620
    • IBM 7094
    • CDC 1604​


Third Generation Computers (1964-1971)-Integrated Circuits

  • The second generation transistor was replaced by integrated circuit.
  • The transistors are made in to smaller size placed on a silicon chip called the semi conductor, which is in turn called as Chips.
  • Integrated Chip was invented by Jack Kilby in 1958.
  • They are highly reliable, relatively inexpensive and faster.
  • In 1964, IBM introduced IBM 360 machines, a family of mainframe computing hardware.
  • It handles both scientific applications and data processing applications.
  • Input device is made of key to tape system and reading from magnetic disks.
  • Output devices are video displays using cathode ray tubes and printed reports using line printers.
  • It uses High level languages like Pascal, C etc for programming.
  • Remote processing and time-sharing are its data processing technologies.
  • Application areas are airline systems, forecasting, marketing systems and office automation.
  • Computers of this generation are
    • IBM 360 series
    • ICL 1900 series
    • IBM 370 - 168
    • Honey Well Model 316
    • CDC - 1700
    • PDP - 11/45

Fourth Generation Computers (1971 to present) Microprocessor

  • The advent of fourth generation started with the development of mini computers in the late sixties by the Digital Equipment Corporation.
  • Microprocessor brought the fourth generation computers with thousands of integrated circuits built onto a single silicon chip.
  • In 1971 Intel introduced the first microprocessor named as Intel 4004, which is a four bit microprocessor
  • By the end of 1971, there came Intel 8000, Intel 8085 microprocessors and so on.
  • In 1984 Apple introduced Macintosh microprocessors.
  • It is used in large scale integrated semiconductor circuits.
  • Its input devices are data entry through keyboard, inputs using barcodes, MICR and Optical readers.
  • Output devices are VDU, inkjet printers etc.
  • Application areas are visualization, parallel computing etc.

Fifth Generation Computers (Present and Beyond)-Artificial Intelligence

  • This generation is based on artificial intelligence; through it, some applications like voice recognition are still under process.
  • Intelligent robots (Robotics) that could see their environment and could be programmed to carry out certain tasks without step by step instructions.
  • In this era, very high speed machines are developed, which could handle numerical calculations to decision support system.
  • Input devices are CD-ROM, touch screens etc.
  • Output devices are graphical displays, voice responses etc.
  • Application areas are networking concepts, translations of data from one language to another.

Fifth generation computers

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