Generation of Computer
INTRODUCTION: “Generation” in Computer we means a step in technology. The computer which we see today took many years to reach this stage and capability. This time period shows the growth of the computer industry. Previously this term was used to differentiate between hardware technologies but now it has been extended to both hardware and software which makes up an entire computer system. The term “Generation” was widely used during 1964 and till today five computers are known widely. Let’s discuss these generations in details –
THE VACUUM TUBES TECHNOLOGY
FIRST GENERATION COMPUTERS (1940 – 1956): In the first generation computers vacuum tubes were used. These tubes were able to transmit the electric signals electronically and this is the main feature in all modern computes. The signals transmitted in ‘ON’ and ‘OFF’ states were represented in the binary code “1” and “0” respectively. These computers were very heavy and occupied a very wide space and consumed a lot of power. The memory to these computers was made by using electromagnetic relays and all the instruction and data was fed into the computer from punched cards. The instructions were given in machine and assembly language because high-level languages were developed much later.
FEATURES OF FIRST GENERATION COMPUTERS: Frist generation computers were very large in size and occupied a large amount of space. Vacuum tubes were used which were not so reliable. The speed of the computer was slower than the speed of computers of today. Thousands of tubes were used which consumed electricity and transmitted hear as a result had to be properly located and air-conditioned. These computers could only work for a short time because these computers generated heart and had to be switched off to cool them. The operational cost was high. Machine language was used which is not easily understood by a common man.
THE TRANSISTOR TECHNOLOGY
SECOND GENERATION COMPUTERS (1956 – 1963): The second-generation computer used transistors in the circuits because electronic tubes were not reliable for continuous operations. They also consumed more electricity and emitted heat. The introduction of transistor technology led to the development of smaller, faster, and more reliable machines. Assembly language was used in this generation. The memory of these computers ranged from 32 kilobyte to 64-kilo bytes and supported high-level languages like FORTRAN, COBOL, and Algal.
FEATURES OF SECOND GENERATION COMPUTERS: Transistors were smaller in size and more efficient than vacuum tubes. Prices were also less as compared to first-generation computes. Speed increased from milliseconds to microseconds. These computers consumed considerately less power. Computes of this generation generated less heat. Assembly language was used; it made the programmer’s job easier. The transistors were less expensive to produce. They had faster and larger primary and secondary storage as compared to grist generation competes.
THE INTEGRATED CIRCUIT TECHNOLOGY
THIRD GENERATION COMPUTERS (1964 – 71): During this time inte4grated technology was developed. In integrated circuits, dozens of components like transistors, capacitors, diodes, and resistors were fused together on a silicon chip. In the third generation computes small scale integration (SSI) and medium-scale integration (MSI) technology were used. In SSI ten and in MSI about a hundred components were fused together as a single unit on a silicon chip. The Computers of this generation had few megabytes of main memory and magnetic disks capable of storing few megabytes of data per disk drive.
FEATURES OF THIRD GENERATION COMPUTERS: Integrated circuits were introduced. Due to IC’s size reduced. These computers generated less heat. They were highly reliable due to integrated circuits. They used improved high-level languages. Speed increased to Nanoseconds. Reduction in power consumption. Cost was reduced. On line computation made possible. They were general-purpose machines suitable for both scientific and commercial applications. The time-sharing operating systems helped in improved productivity of programmers by cutting downtime and cost.
THE MICROPROCESSOR TECHNOLOGY
FOURTH GENERATION COMPUTERS (1975 – 1989): In the fourth generation computers Large Scale Integration (LSI) and Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) was used. In LSI more than 1000 components are fused together on a silicon chip. The development of LSI and BLSI led to the development of a Microprocessor. A microprocessor contains all the circuits needed to perform arithmetic logic and control functions. In this generation, magnetic core memories replaced semiconductor memories which resulted in random access time. Also, hard disks became cheaper and had a larger capacity. High-speed computer networking also started during this period which enabled multiple computers to be connected together for communicating and sharing data.
FEATURE OF FOURTH GENERATION COMPUTERS: The most important feature of these computers is virtual storage capacity i.e. direct access to external storage media by the computer. These computers have access speed then times faster and with a memory capacity four times greater than the computers of third generation. These computers can work in various modes like time-sharing. Remote computing and multiprogramming. Much more high-level languages have been introduced like Pascal and C. Computer became cheaper of this generation. PC’s are the major outcome of this generation. PC based applications made the PC’s a more powerful tool for both office and home usage. Computer networks enabled the sharing of resources like disks and printers. Computer Supported Cooperative Working (CSCW) or groupware is an application in which multiple members working on a single project and located at distant locations. Cooperative with each other by using a network of computers.
THE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TECHNOLOGY
FIFTH GENERATION COMPUTERS (1989 – Present): This generation is known as the age of the Personal Computer. The fifth-generation is the story of the new breed of computers now being planned by the Japanese. These computers will contain bits of information and will be able to think and make decisions and in certain instances better than human beings. Efforts to design such systems are classified under the heading of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Japanese call their fifths generation machines as Knowledge Information Processing System (KIPS). The entire world is likely to become dependent on these machines for simple words fifth generation computer means “Artificial Intelligence.” In this generation, ULSI technology became Ultra Large Scale Integration (ULSI) was used which produced microprocessor chips. Storage technology also advanced which produced larger main memory and disk storage. Compact Disk-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) was also developed Internet technology also developed during this period and E-mail facility became available through World Wide Web (www). A wider range of multimedia applications for text, graphics, animations, audio, and video also developed.
FEATURES OF FIFTH GENERATION COMPUTERS: Portable PC’s developed. More powerful mainframes. Power consumption much less. Contained faster memories. No air-conditioning required for notebook PC. These are general-purpose computers. Ultra Large Scale Integration (ULSI) developed. Contains user-friendly integration with multimedia. Number of computer is now available with affordable price.