History and Generations of Computers
Computer generations refer to the advancements in computer technology. With each new generation, the circuitry has gotten smaller and more advanced than the previous generation. As a result, the efficiency, speed, power, and memory of computers have increased. The complete history of computers is divided into five generations.
The First Generation: 1946-1958 (The Vacuum Tube Era)
Vacuum tubes were used in the first generation of computers. The first generation computers were slow, expensive, and often unreliable. One of the first generation computers was the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) that used thousands of vacuum tubes. It took up a lot of space and produced a lot of heat. The UNIVAC was the first commercial computer delivered to the US. Census Bureau in 1951.
The Second Generation: 1959-1964 (The Transistor Era)
Transistors replaced vacuum tubes and were used in the second generation computers. Transistor is a device. composed of semiconductor material. it was invented in 1947 at Bell Labs. The transistor was faster, more reliable, smaller, and much cheaper to build than a vacuum tube. One transistor replaced about 40 vacuum tubes. Second-generation computers moved from machine language to assembly languages, which allowed programmers to specify instructions in words.
The Third Generation: 1965-1970 (Integrated Circuits)
The development of the integrated circuit (ICs) was the hallmark of the third
generation of computers. integrated circuits placed on silicon chips called semiconductors, increased the speed and efficiency of computers. ICs were a tremendous breakthrough in advancing the computer. The packs a huge number
of transistor onto a single water of silicon. The invention of integrated circuits reduced both the size and cost of computers even further and further enhancing its power.
Third generation computers could carry out instructions in billionths of a second
The Fourth Generation: 1971 -Today (The Microprocessor)
The Fourth Generation can be characterized by both, the integrated circuits, and the invention of the microprocessor (a single chip that could do all the processing of a full scale computer). By putting the millions of transistors onto one single chip, move calculations and faster speed could be achieved by computer it led to the invention of personal computers, or microcomputers.
Images of few early age Fourth Generation Computers are shown in Figure.
Fifth Generation (Present and Beyond)
Fifth generation computers are based on artificial intelligence and are still in development phase. Robots and such other intelligent systems are major developments of this generation. The main objective of fifth generation computing is to develop devices that respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization.