Computer Generations – Computerji

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  • January 8, 2024
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Computer generations: In our current era, we cannot do without computers in our daily lives. Its applications extend to multiple fields such as communication, medicine, education, business, entertainment, and many more. But before we got there, the computer industry had evolved significantly over the ages.

The history of computer generations dates back to earlier decades, when early generation computers were considered bulky and very expensive. These computers use ancient technologies such as vacuum tubes and electromechanical switches for control. It did not have internal storage capacity and relied mainly on magnetic tapes and paper tapes for storage, so in this article we will learn about computer generations in detail.

Basic terms related to computers

Basic terms related to computer generations are listed below.

  1. Vacuum tube: Vacuum tubes have the function of controlling the flow of electronics in the vacuum. Generally, it is used in switches, speakers, radios, televisions, etc.
  2. Transistor: A transistor helps control the flow of electricity in devices and acts as an amplifier or switch.
  3. Integrated circuit (IC): Integrated circuits are silicon chips that contain their circuit elements such as transistors, resistors, etc.
  4. Microprocessor: Microprocessors are the components containing the central processing unit and its circuits found in an integrated circuit.
  5. Central Processing Unit (CPU): The CPU is called the brain of the computer. The CPU does the processing and operations.
  6. Magnetic roller: A magnetic cylinder is similar to a cylinder that stores data and a cylinder.
  7. Magnetic core: Magnetic cores are used to store information. These are arrays of small rings.
  8. Machine language: Machine language is the language that a computer accepts (in the form of binary numbers). It is also called low-level programming language.
  9. memory: Memory is used to store data, information, and programs in a computer.
  10. artificial intelligence: Artificial Intelligence deals with creating intelligent machines and behaviors.

Computer generations

This long period is often conveniently divided into later phases called computer generations.

  • First generation computers (1940-1956)
  • Second generation computers (1956-1963)
  • Third generation computers (1964-1971)
  • Fourth generation computers (1971-present)
  • Fifth generation computers (present and beyond)
Generations of computers time period Hardware development
First generation 1940s and 1950s Vacuum tube based
second generation From the fifties to the sixties Transistor based
third generation Sixties – seventies Existing integrated circuits
The fourth generation 1970s – present Microprocessor based
Fifth generation Present – future It is based on artificial intelligence

Before computers were created, we used calculators, spreadsheets, and computer algebra systems, and mathematicians and inventors searched for solutions to ease the burden of calculation.

Here are 8 mechanical calculators before the invention of modern computers.

  1. Abacus (ca. 2700 BC)
  2. Pascal’s Calculator (1652)
  3. Reckoner’s Ascension (1694)
  4. Thermometer (1820)
  5. Comptometer (1887) and Comptograph (1889)
  6. Difference Engine (1822)
  7. Analytical Engine (1834)
  8. The Millionaire (1893)

First generation computers

The technology behind basic-generation computers was a fragile glass device, which was called a vacuum tube. These computers were very heavy and very large. These were not very reliable and programming on them was a tedious task because they used a low-level programming language and did not use any operating system. First generation computers were used for calculation, storage and control purposes. It was so huge and large that it needed an entire room and consumed a lot of electricity.

Examples of some first generation mainframe computers are given below.

  • EDVAC: The electronic discrete variable automatic computer was designed by von Neumann. It can also store data as instructions and thus the speed is improved.
  • UNIVAC: Universal Automatic Computer was developed in 1952 by Eckert and Mauchly.

First generation computersFirst generation computers

Characteristics of first generation computers

characteristics Elements
Main electronic component Evacuated tube.
programming language Machine language.
main memory Magnetic strips and magnetic cylinders.
Input/output devices Paper tape and punched cards.
Speed ​​and size Very slow and very large (often taking up an entire room).
Examples from the first generation IBM 650, IBM 701, ENIAC, UNIVAC1, etc.

Second generation computers

Next on our list of computer generations is the second generation. The second generation computers used transistor technology instead of huge vacuum tubes. Another advantage is the base storage unit. A transistor may be a device consisting of a semiconducting material that amplifies a signal or opens or closes a circuit.

Transistors were invented at Bell Laboratories. The use of transistors made it possible to perform powerfully and at a reasonable speed. The dimensions and price thankfully also reduced the warmth generated by the vacuum tubes. The central processing unit (CPU), memory, programming language, and input and output units also came into effect during the second generation.

It transformed the programming language from a high level into a programming language and made programming a relatively simple task for programmers. The languages ​​used in programming during this era were FORTRAN (1956), ALGOL (1958), and COBOL (1959).

Second generation computersSecond generation computers

Characteristics of second generation computers

characteristics Elements
Main electronic component Transistor.
programming language Machine language and assembly language.
memory Magnetic core and magnetic tape/disk.
Input/output devices Magnetic stripe and punched cards.
Strength and size Smaller size, lower power consumption, and generated less heat (compared to first generation computers).
Examples of the second generation PDP-8, IBM1400 series, IBM 7090 and 7094, UNIVAC 1107, CDC 3600, etc.

Third generation computers

During the third generation, technology envisioned a shift from bulky transistors to integrated circuits, also referred to as ICs. Here a variety of transistors are placed on silicon chips, called semiconductors. The most important features of a computer of this era were speed and reliability. The IC is made of silicon and is also called silicon wafers.

A single IC contains many transistors, registers and capacitors built on a single thin chip of silicon. Value size has been reduced and memory space and handling efficiency have increased during this generation. Programming in higher level languages ​​such as BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) has now been eliminated. Microcomputers find their shape during this era.

Third generation computersThird generation computers

Characteristics of third generation computers

characteristics Elements
Main electronic component Integrated circuits (ICs).
programming language High level language.
memory Large magnetic core, magnetic strip/disc.
Input/output devices Magnetic tape, monitor, keyboard, printer, etc.
Examples of the third generation IBM 360, IBM 370, PDP-11, NCR 395, B6500, UNIVAC 1108, etc.

Fourth generation computers

In 1971, the first microprocessors were used, large-scale integration (LSI) circuits built on a single chip called a microprocessor. The advantage of this technology is that a single microprocessor can contain all the circuitry required to perform arithmetic, logic, and control functions on a single chip.

Computers that used chips were called microcomputers. This generation introduced computers of smaller size, with larger capacities and then large format integrated circuits (VLSI) replaced LSI circuits. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, placed all computer components from the CPU and memory to I/O controls on a single chip and allowed the dimensions to shrink dramatically.

Technologies such as multiprocessing, multiprogramming, time-sharing, overclocking, and virtual memory made the device more user-friendly and familiar. The concept of private computers and computer networks emerged in the fourth generation.

Fourth generation computersFourth generation computers

Characteristics of fourth generation computers

characteristics Elements
Main electronic component Large scale integration (VLSI) and microprocessor (VLSI has thousands of transistors on a single chip).
memory Semiconductor memory (such as RAM, ROM, etc.).
Input/output devices Pointing devices, scanning, keyboard, monitor, printer, etc.
Examples of the fourth generation IBM PC, STAR 1000, APPLE II, Apple Macintosh, Alter 8800, etc.

Fifth generation computers

Finally, the fifth generation of computers. The technology behind the fifth generation of computers is artificial intelligence. It allows computers to behave like humans. It is often seen in software such as voice recognition, medicine and entertainment field. In the gaming arena, it also shows great performance as computers are able to beat human competitors.

The speed is the highest, the size is the smallest, and the usage area has increased significantly inside 5th generation computers. Although artificial intelligence has not been achieved one hundred percent yet but taking into account the current developments, it is often said that this dream will become a reality very soon.

To summarize the features of the various generations of computers, it is often said that a significant improvement has been observed so far due to the speed and accuracy of taking care of the performance, but if we mention the dimensions, it has been small over the years. Additionally, value is diminished and reliability is increased.

Fifth generation computersFifth generation computers

Characteristics of fifth generation computers

characteristics Elements
Main electronic component Based on artificial intelligence, it uses Ultra Large-Scale Integration (ULSI) technology and parallel processing method (ULSI has millions of transistors on a single chip, and parallel processing method uses two or more microprocessors to run tasks simultaneously).
language Understanding natural language (human language).
measuring Portable and small in size.
Input/output device Trackpad (or touchpad), touch screen, pen, speech input (voice/speech recognition), scanner, printer, keyboard, monitor, mouse, etc.
An example of the fifth generation Desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.

At the conclusion of our article Computer Generations, it can be said that with each new generation of computers, new technologies and innovations have emerged that have improved our experience in using computers and increased our capabilities in many areas. Processing, storage, and display capabilities have improved, making it easier for us to access information and perform tasks more effectively.

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