Generations of Computer

Published by: BhumiRaj Timalsina

Published Date: 21 Jan 2022

Generation of Computer in Grade-8, Reference Note

The history of computer is also referred with its generation. Key technology development that vitally changed the way computers operate, resulting in increasingly smaller, cheaper, more powerful, efficient and reliable devices distinguished the generation of the computer. This division of computer according to the development period, memory, processing speed, efficiency, storage etc. is called computer generation. There are five computer generations:

First Generation (1946-1958)

Vacuum tubes were used for first generation computers for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory. They were very huge and expensive to operate. Due to the consumption of great deal of electricity, it generated a lot of heat that often caused malfunctioning in the system. Example: ENIAC, UNIVAC, MARK-1.

Features of first generation computer

  • They used vacuum tubes/valves as their main electronic components.
  • Storage capacity was limited to 1 KB to 4 KB.
  • They used machine level language for programming.
  • Processing speed was in millisecond.
  • They used magnetic drum for primary memory.

Drawbacks of first generation of computer

  • Difficult in maintenance.
  • No facility of linking program.
  • Difficult for logical programming.

Second Generation (1959-1964)

The transistors invented in 1947 which was not seen as extensive use, replaced vacuum tubes. The transistor was far superior to the vacuum tube that made computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy-efficient and more reliable that the first generation IBM 1401, UNIVAC-II, IBM 1620.

Features of second generation  of computer

  • They used transistors in place of vacuum tubes. 1 transistor=1000 vacuum tubes.
  • Speed of processing was increased to microsecond.
  • They used magnetic core as primary memory and magnetic tapes as auxiliary memory.
  • They were much smaller and more reliable.
  • They used assembly language for programming.

Third generation (1965-1974)

The development of the Integrated Circuit (IC) was the major turning point of the third generation computers. Transistors were made smaller and placed on silicon clips called semiconductors that drastically increased the speed and efficiency of computers. It was called integrated Circuit. Eg: IBM 360, PDP-8, etc.

Features of third generation of computer

  • Integrated Circuit (IC) replaced transistors. 1 IC=100 transistors.
  • Processing speed was increased to nanosecond.
  • Semi conductor memory was used instead of magnetic core memory.
  • They used high-level language for programming.
  • They were smaller, more efficient and more reliable.

Fourth Generation (1975-1990)

The development of microprocessor gave rise to the forth generation of computers. A microprocessor has thousands of integrated circuits builds onto a single silicon clips. The Intel 4004 chips, developed in 1971 is the first microprocessor.

Features of fourth generation of computer

  • Microprocessor is used in place of transistors. Very Large Scale integration (VLSI) containing 10/20 LSIs(Large Scale Integration) is called microprocessor.
  • Speed of processing is increased to Pico second. Billions of instructions could be processed in a second.
  • They are very user-friendly computers which use many high level languages for programming

Fifth Generation Computer (1991-unward)

The fifth generation computers are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and are still in development. After 90s computers that support Voice Recognition System (VRS) have been developed.

Features of fifth generation of computer

  • These computers will use parallel processor made from super conductors Gallium Arsenide (GaAs)/biochip.
  • They will posses Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • They will be able to input in nature language.

Artificial Intelligence 

It is the biotechnology, which will be used in the fifth generation computer. A computer having AI will be able to understand natural language, think and make decisions.

In the simplest terms, AI which stands for artificial intelligence refers to systems or machines that mimic human intelligence to perform tasks and can iteratively improve themselves based on the information they collect. AI manifests in a number of forms. A few examples are:

  • Chatbots use AI to understand customer problems faster and provide more efficient answers
  • Intelligent assistants use AI to parse critical information from large free-text datasets to improve scheduling
  • Recommendation engines can provide automated recommendations for TV shows based on users’ viewing habits

AI is much more about the process and the capability for superpowered thinking and data analysis than it is about any particular format or function. Although AI brings up images of high-functioning, human-like robots taking over the world, AI isn’t intended to replace humans. It’s intended to significantly enhance human capabilities and contributions. That makes it a very valuable business asset.