Computer Generations

Topics: Integrated circuit, Computer, Artificial intelligence Pages: 5 (1033 words) Published: October 25, 2013


The term generation indicates the type of technology used in the computer construction. As new technology was emerging, it was being used in the making of computer. The new technology improved the speed, accuracy and storage capacity of the computers. Different technologies have been used for computers in different times. Therefore, computers can be divided into five generations depending upon the technologies used. These are: First Generation (1940 - 1956)

Second Generation (1956 - 1963)
Third Generation (1964 - 1971)
Fourth Generation (1971 to present)
Fifth Generation (In process)

1. First Generation Computers (1940 - 1956)
The vacuum tube technology was used in first-generation computers. Mark-1m, EDSAC, Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), and Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC). etc. machines belong to the first generation of computers. The machine language only was used in first-generation computers.

The main advantages of first-generation computers were:
The electronic digital computers were introduced due to the vacuum tube technology. These computers were the fastest of their time.
They were programmed using machine language.

The main disadvantages of first-generation computers were:
Consumed large amount of energy
More costly
Very slow in speed (data processing)
Constant maintenance required
Very big in size
Not reliable
More heat generated and air-conditioning was required
It was difficult to programmed, because they used only machine language Non-portable
Limited commercial use

2 .Second generations of computers (1956-1963)
The transistor technology was used in second-generation computers. The electronic component transistor was invented in 1948 at Bell Laboratories The transistor is smaller in size and more reliable than vacuum tube. Therefore, the transistor technology was used in computer in place of vacuum tube technology. The programming assembly language was also introduced in second-generation of computers.  PDP-8, IBM 1401 and CDC 1604 are among examples.

The main advantages of second-generation computers as compared to first-generation computers are: More reliable and accurate in calculations.
Consume low power etc.
Low in cost.
Smaller in size.
Assembly language was introduced. This language is easy to write program than machine language. Fast in speed.
Less heat generated
Used for commercial purposes

The main disadvantages of this generation computers were:
Manual assembly of individual components into a functioning unit was required. Air-conditioning required.
Commercial production was difficult and these were very costly. Constant (or frequent) maintenance required.
Only used for special purposes.

3. Third Generation Computers (1964 - 1971)
The IC (Integrated Circuits) technology was used in third-generation computers. In a small IC chip (5 mm square size) a circuit is designed having large number of electronic components like transistors, capacitors, diodes, resistors etc. Initially, an IC contained only about ten to twenty components. Thus the IC technology was named as Small Scale Integration (SSI). The third-generation was based on IC technology and the computers were designed using this technology.  IBM 370, PDP 11 are among examples.

The main advantages of third-generation as compared to previous generations of computers were: Smaller in size
Production cost was low
Many input/output devices were introduced such as mouse and keyboard etc. Very fast in computational power
More reliable
Low power consumption
Maintenance cost was low because failure rate of hardware was very low. Easily portable
Easy to operate
Upgraded easily
Totally general purpose. Widely used for various commercial...
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