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Generations of Computers

In this article, we are going to discuss about the introduction of generations of computers, different generations of the computers and the advantages of the generations.
Submitted by Prerana Jain, on July 19, 2018

Generations of Computers

Over the year various computing devices were invented that enable the people to solve different types of problems. All these computing devices can be classified into several generations. These generations refer to the phases of improvement made to different computing devices. The history of computers are discussed in terms of different generations of the computer as listed below:

1. First Generation Computer

The first generation computer was employed during the period 1940-1956. These computers used the vacuum tube technology for calculation as well as for storage and control purpose. A vacuum tube is made up of glass and contains filament inside it. The input and output medium for the first-generation computer was the punched card and printout respectively.

Advantages of First Generation Computers:

  • These computers were the fastest computing devices of their time.
  • These computers were able to execute complex mathematical problems in an efficient manner.

2. Second Generation Computers

The second generation of the computer was employed during the period 1956-1963. The main characteristic of these computers was the use of the transistor in place of vacuum tubes in building the basic logic circuits. The transistors were invented by Shockley, Brattain, and Bardeen in 1947 for which they win the Nobel prize. The transistor is a semiconductor device which is used to increase the power of incoming signals by preserving the shape of the original signal is called transistors. Another major technology development made to this computer was the replacement of the machine language with the assembly language.

Advantages of Second Generation Computers:

  • They were the fastest computing devices of their time.
  • They were easy to program because of the use of assembly language.
  • They required very less power in carrying out their operations.
  • They were required to be placed in air-conditioned places.

3. Third Generation of Computer

The third generations of the computer were employed during the period 1964-1975. The major characteristic feature of the third generation computer system was the use of Integrated Circuits (ICs). The ICs technology was also known as microelectronics technology. ICs are the circuits that combine various electronic component such as a transistor, capacitor etc. ICs were superior to vacuum tube and transistors in terms of cost and performance. The cost of the ICs are very low and the performance is very high.

Advantages of Third Generation Computer:

  • They were very productive because of their small computational time.
  • They were easily transportable from one place to another because of their small size.
  • They were more reliable and required less frequent maintenance schedule.
  • They could be installed very easily and required less space for their installation.

4. Fourth Generation Computer

The fourth generation computer was employed during 1975-1989. The invention of large-scale Integration (LSI) technology and very large scale integration (VLSI) technology led to the development of the fourth generation of computer. however, these computers still used the IC technology to build the basic circuits. Apart from this technology the fourth generation also includes the following development:

  • Development of Graphical User Interface (GUI).
  • Development of a new operating system.
  • Development of Local Area Network (LAN).
  • The invention of various secondary storage and I/o devices.

Advantages of Fourth Generation Computers:

  • They were highly reliable and required very less maintenance.
  • They provided a user- friendly environment while working because of the development of GUIs and interactive I/O devices.

5. Fifth Generation Computers

The different types of the modern digital computer come under the categories of the fifth generation of computers. The fifth generation of computers is based on the Ultra Large Scale (ULSI) technology that allows almost ten million electronic component to be fabricated on one small chip. Some of the improvement or development made during this generation of the computer are as follow:

  • Development of Parallel Processor.
  • The invention of optical Disk technology.
  • Development of centralized computers called services.

Advantages of Fifth Generation Computers:

  • They are the fastest and powerful computer to date.
  • They are versatile for communication and resources sharing.
  • They are able to execute a large number of applications at the same time and that too at a very high speed.

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