Generation of computers

The computer generation means step-by-step growth in the technology. It is often used in relation to the hardware of computer. 

There are totally five generations of computers till today. The following table illustrates the generations of computer hardware:

  • First Generation (1940-1956)
  • Second Generation (1956-1965)
  • Third Generation (1966-1975)
  • Fourth Generation (1976-1990)
  • Fifth Generation (1990-Present

First Generation (1940-1955):

  • In this Generation, Computers were build with “Vacuum Tubes”.
  • These computers are in big size, it occupies an entire room.
  • In this generation, Computers are very expensive, need a lot of Electricity and generates heavy heat.
  • First Generation Computers were programmed with “Machine Language (0’s and 1’s)”.
  • Input is entered by using punched cards and output was displayed on printouts.

Examples are: UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer), ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator).

  • Second Generation (1956-1965):
  • In this Generation, Computers were build with “Transistors”.
  • Transistors were smaller, faster, cheaper more energy than Vacuum Tubes.
  • These computers consume less electricity and generate less heat, than First Generation.
  • Second Generation Computers were programmed with “Assembly Language”.
  • Input is entered by using punched cards and output was displayed on printouts.
  • At the time of Second Generation, COBOL, FORTRAIN, ALGOL and SNOBOL were developed.

Examples are: IBM 7000, IBM 650, Mark III etc.

  • Third Generation (1966-1975):
  • In this Generation, Computers were build with “Integrated Circuits(IC)”. 
  • An IC is a silicon chip which consists of Transistors, Resistors and Capacitors.
  • IC was smaller, cheaper and faster than Transistors.
  • These computers consume less electricity and generate less heat, than Second Generation.
  • Input is entered by using keyboard and output was displayed on monitor.
  • At the time of Third Generation, PASCAL, BASIC etc were developed.

Examples are: PDP-8, PDP-11, IBM 360 and IBM 370 etc.

  • Fourth Generation (1976-1990):
  • In this Generation, Computers were build with “Microprocessor”. 
  • Microprocessor is build with thousands of ICs on a single Silicon Chip.
  • These computers were smaller, cheaper and larger memory.
  • In this Generation, many Operating Systems such as MS-DOS, MS-WINDOWS, UNIX and Apple were developed.
  • In this Generation, Programming Languages like C, C++, and Java were developed.

Examples are: IBM 4341, DEC 10, STAR 1000 and APPLE II etc

  • Fifth Generation (1990-Present):
  • In this Generation, Computers were build with new concept “Artificial Intelligence (AI)”.
  • The goal of the fifth generation is to develop computers, which respond to natural language and voice.
  • Although such computers are still in development, there are some applications that are being used today.

Examples are: Expert systems, Robotics, neural networks, PARAM etc.

Updated: June 16, 2020 — 9:04 pm

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