Generation of Computer 1st to 5th

Generation of computers getting better day by day everyone is competing for each other in today’s era. The custom of referring to the computer era in terms of generation came into wide use only after 1964.

There are totally five generations. Through the various computer generations, you will come across several new terminologies and computer jargons.

However, here we provide you an overview of 1st to 5th generation of computer technologies during the decades.

First generation – Vacuum Tube  (1942-1955)

Early, 1st generation of computers – ENIAC, EDVAC, EDSAC, UNIV AC I, and IBM 701. These machines and others of their time used thousands of vacuum tubes.

A vacuum tube was a fragile glass device, which filaments as a source of electronics and could control and amplify electronic signals. It was the only high – speed electronic switching devices available in those days.

These vacuum tube computers could perform computations in milliseconds and be referred to as first- generation computers.

The memory of these computers used electromagnetic relays, and all instructions were fed into the system punched cards. The instructions were written in machine and assembly languages.

Second generation -Transistors(1955-1964)

John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain invented a new electronic switching device called transistor at Bell laboratories in 1947.  Later on, Transistors were proved as a better electronic switching device than vacuum tubes due to their following properties :

– the size was smaller than the vacuum tube.

– less expensive.

– switch faster than a vacuum tube.

– consumed 1/10 amount of power as compared to a vacuum tube.

– Produce less heat.

Due to the properties of transistors listed above, these computers were more powerful, more reliable, less expensive, smaller, and cooler than the first generation computers.

They used magnetic cores for main memory and magnetic disk and tape as secondary memory.

Third generation – Integrated Circuits(1964-1975)

3rd generation of computers are Integrated Circuits which was founded by Jack St.Clair Kilby and Robert Noyce in 1958.

Integrated circuits are the circuits consisting of several electronic components like transistors, capacitors, and resistors. In which single chip of silicon eliminating wired interconnection between components.

Initially, the integrated circuits were made through the attachment of ten to twenty components. The technology was named small scale integration(SSI) later with the advancement in technology for manufacturing ICs.

Later, it became to integrate up to about a hundred components on a single chip. This technology came to be known as medium scale integration(MSI).

This technology built using integrated circuits characterized the third generation.Later on, ICs were getting smaller, less expensive to produce, more reliable and fast in operations.

Fourth generation -Microprocessors(1975-1989)

The progression of electronic components packed on a silicon chip doubled each year after 1965.This progress soon led to large scale integration when it is possible to integrate 30,000 electronic components on a single chip and led to very large scale integration. When this progress led to a dramatic development – a creation of a microprocessor.

A microprocessor contains all circuits needed to perform arithmetic logic and control function, the core activities of all computers on a chip.

Later it became possible to build a complete computer with a microprocessor, a few additional primary storages, and other supportive circuits. It starts a new revolution by inventing the personal computer (PC).

During the fourth generation, semiconductors memories replaced magnetic core memories resulting in large random access memories with very fast access time. On another side, Hard disks became cheaper, smaller, and larger in capacity.

On the software side, several new developments came to match the new technologies of the fourth generation . for eg: MS-Windows, MS-Dos and MAC -OS.

Fifth generation -Artificial Intelligence(1989 – present)

The trending of electric components dramatically increased in power of microprocessor chips, and an increase in capacity of main memory and hard disk. VLSI(Very large scale integration ) directly increased to ULSI(Ultra large scale integration) technology in the 5th generation of computers resulting in the production of microprocessor chips have ten million electronic components.

In fact, the speed of a microprocessor where keep on developing in every month and the storage performance were getting better and better.

As a result, many features found in the CPUs of large mainframe systems of third and fourth generation systems became part of microprocessor architecture in the fifth generation.

This ultimately resulted in the availability of very powerful and compact computers becoming available at cheaper rates and the death of the traditional large mainframe system.


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