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Generations of Computers with Years

Generations of Computer
First Generation of Computer (1946-1959)

Main Features Major Innovation – Vacuum Tubes Main Memory – Punched Cards Input Output Devices – Punched cards and papers Languages – Low level machine language Operating System – No operating system, human operators to set switches Size – Main frame for example ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC. The duration lasted from 1946-1959 was based on vacuum tubes. These vacuum tubes were about the size of 100 watt light bulb and used as the internal computer component. However because thousands of such bulbs were used, the computers were very large and generate a large amount of heat, causing many problems in temperature regulation and climate control.In this generation input and out put device (punched card) that was used fro data storing purpose were very slow. The computers were operating manually and the language used was a low level machine language (symbolic language) with binary code that required a high programming skill. ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC and Mark-1 were some of the major inventions of this generation.


Advantages of First Generation 1. Vacuum tubes were used as electronic component. 2. Electronic digital computers were developed for the first time. 3. These computers were the fastest calculating devices of their time. 4. Computations were performed in millisecond.
Disadvantages of First Generation 1. Too large in size. 2. They were unreliable. 3. Induce a large amount of heat due to the vacuum tubes. 5. Not portable. 6. Limited commercial use.

Second Generation of Computers (1959-1964)

Main Features Major Innovation – Transistors as main component. Main Memory – RAM and ROM. External Storage – Magnetic tapes and Magnetic Disk. Input Output Devices – Magnetic tapes and Magnetic Disk. Languages – Assembly language, some high level languages for Example BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN. Operating System – Human handles punched card. Size – Main frame for example IBM-1401, NCR-300, IBM-600 etc. The period of this generation is from 1959 to 1964. During this period transistor were used for internal logic circuits of computers. These computers could execute 200000 instructions per second. The input/output devices became much faster by the use of magnetic table. During this period the low level programming language were used however the high level programming languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL were also used. The problem of heat maintenance was solved and size of computer reduced, while speed and reliability were increased. Many companies manufactured second generation computers and many of those for business applications. The most popular second generation computer was IBM-1401, introduced in 1960, while the following computers were used by many business organizations. IBM-1400 series, IBM-1600 series, UNIVAC-III, NCR-300 etc.
Advantages of Second Generation 1. Smaller in size as compares to 1st generation. 2. Much more reliable. 3. Less heat generated. 4. Computation was performing in micro second. 5. Less hardware and maintenance problem. 6. Could be used for commercial use.
Disadvantages of Second Generation 1. Very costly for commercial use. 2. It still required frequent maintenance. 3. Frequent cooling also required.

Third Generation of Computers (1965-1970)

Main Features Major Innovation – Integrated circuit (ICs) as basic electronic component. Main Memory – PROM and DRAM.vExternal Storage – Improve disk (Floppy Disk) Input and Output Devices – Keyboard for input, monitor for output. Languages – More high level languages. Operating System – Complete operating systems were introduced. Size – Mini, for example: IBM SYSTEM / 360, ICH-360, HONEY WELL-316 etc. In this generation the integrated circuits (IC) were used. Integrated circuits contain many electronic components on a single chip. The disk oriented systems wee made at the end of this generation. The size of computer became very small with better performance and reliability. High level programming languages were extensively used. In 1969 the first microprocessor chip INTEL 4004 was developed but it was used only in calculators. The faster input/output devices made possible multi-processing and multi programming. Where by a number of input terminals could be run virtually at the same time on a single centrally located computer. The famous computer were IBM-360, IBM-370, UNIVAC 9000 series etc.
Advantages of Third Generation 1. Smaller in size as compared to second generation. 2. More reliable. 3. Portable 4. Less electricity consumption. 5. Heat generation was rare. 6. General purpose computer.
Disadvantages of Third Generation 1. Air conditioning was required in many cases due to ICs. 2. Very advance technology was required to make the ICs.

Fourth Generation of Computers (1971-1981)

Main FeaturesMajor Innovation – LSIC and VLSIC (Micro Processor) Main Memory – EPROM and SRAM. External Storage – Floppy Disk and Hard Disk. Input and Output Devices – Monitor for output. Languages – Languages and application softwares. Operating System – MS-DOS and PC-DOS Size – Micro computer e.g. IBM-PC, Apple Macintosh etc. The Integrated circuits were more developed and called Small scale integration (SSI), after some time the SSI were more developed and termed as Large scale integration (LSI). There was a great versatility of input/output devices. In 1971, a powerful microprocessor chip INTEL 8008 was introduced. The first microprocessor which is used in personal computers (PC) was INTEL 8080. The 8 inch floppy disk was also introduced in 1971, while hard disk was introduced in 1973. The 5.25 floppy disk was first time used in 1978. The optical disk was developed in 1980. First portable computer “Osborne I” was marketed in 1981. IBM-3033, IBM-370, IBM system 34, IBM system 36, Cray-I, CP/M etc were introduced in this generation.
Advantages of Fourth Generation 1. Smaller in size and much reliable. 2. No cooling system required in many cases. 3. Much faster computation. 4. Portable and cheap. 5. The heat generated was negligible. 6. Totally general purpose computer.
Disadvantages of Fourth Generation 1. Very advanced technology was required to fabricate to the ICs.

Fifth Generation (1981-Onward)

Main Features Major Innovations – ULSIC (Ultra large scale integrated circuit) Main Memory – EEPROM, SIMM and DIMM. External Storage – Modified magnetic and Optical disks. Input/output Devices – Keyboard, Pointing Device, Scanner as input and Monitor as main output. Languages – AI (Artificial Intelligence) Expert systems.Operating System – GUI based e.g. Windows 95, Windows NT. Size – Very small in size example: Laptop, Note book, Digital Diary, Palm top and Pocket PC.This generation is started from 1981 and still continued, new technologies are adopted to fabricate IC chips, such as electron beam, X-rays or laser rays. The Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) was developed, so the computer became much smaller than ever before. New memory storage device like bubble memory, optical or memory are being designed. the new computer will be controlled by using human voice and will work by giving command in our own language. Future computer will in some way to be intelligent and capable of making decision.
Advantages of Fifth Generation 1. Very large storage capacity. 2. Long bit processor builds. 3. Artificial Intelligence Language developed.

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