Generation of Computers: A Survey
Nithin Prince John
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Sree Buddha College Of...
B. Second Generation (1955-1964)

C. Third Generation (1965-1974)

Transistors replaced vacuum tubes and ushered in the se...
affordable. As a result, it gave rise to personal computer
(PC) revolution. In this generation Time sharing, Real time,
Ne...
R EFERENCES
[1] Kai Hwang and Faye A. Briggs, Computer Architecture and Parallel
Processing, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 198...
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Generation of Computers: A Survey

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Nothing epitomizes modern life better than the
computer. Computers are such an integral part of our everyday
life now most people take them and what they have added to life
totally for granted. Even more so the generation who have grown
from infancy within the global desktop and laptop revolution
since the 1980s. The history of computer development is often
referred to in reference to the different generations of computing
devices. A generation refers to the state of improvement in the
product development process. This term is also used in the
different advancements of new computer technology. As new
technology was emerging, it was being used in the making of
computer. With each new generation, the circuitry has gotten
smaller and more advanced than the previous generation before
it. As a result of the miniaturization, speed, power, and com-
puter memory has proportionally increased. New discoveries are
constantly being developed that affect the way we live, work and
play.

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Generation of Computers: A Survey

  1. 1. Generation of Computers: A Survey Nithin Prince John Department of Computer Science and Engineering Sree Buddha College Of Engineering, Pattoor, Kerala - 690529 nithinpj09@gmail.com Abstract—Nothing epitomizes modern life better than the computer. Computers are such an integral part of our everyday life now most people take them and what they have added to life totally for granted. Even more so the generation who have grown from infancy within the global desktop and laptop revolution since the 1980s. The history of computer development is often referred to in reference to the different generations of computing devices. A generation refers to the state of improvement in the product development process. This term is also used in the different advancements of new computer technology. As new technology was emerging, it was being used in the making of computer. With each new generation, the circuitry has gotten smaller and more advanced than the previous generation before it. As a result of the miniaturization, speed, power, and computer memory has proportionally increased. New discoveries are constantly being developed that affect the way we live, work and play. A. First Generation (1945-1954) First generation of computer started with using vacuum tubes as the basic components for memory and circuitry for CPU(Central Processing Unit)and were often enormous, taking up entire rooms. These tubes like electric bulbs produced a lot of heat and were prone to frequent fusing of the installations, therefore, were very expensive and could be afforded only by very large organisations. In this generation mainly batch processing operating system were used. First generation computers relied on machine language, the lowest-level programming language understood by computers, to perform operations, and they could only solve one problem at a time. Input was based on punched cards and paper tape, and output was displayed on printouts. Index Terms—Vacuum tubes, transistors, IC, VLSI, ULSI. I. I NTRODUCTION The first use word "computer" was recorded in 1613, referring to a person who carried out calculations, or computations, and the word continued to be used in that sense until the middle of the 20th century. From the end of the 19th century onwards, though, the word began to take on its more familiar meaning, describing a machine that carries out computations. The history of the computer goes back several decades however there are totally five computer generations known till date. Generation in computer is a step in technology. It provides a framework for the growth of the computer industry. Initially, the generation term was used to distinguish between varying hardware technologies. But nowadays, generation includes both hardware and software, which together make up an entire computer system. Each generation of computers is characterized by major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate, resulting in increasingly smaller, cheaper, more powerful and more efficient and reliable computing devices. Therefore, computers can be divided into five generations depending upon the technologies used. These are: • First Generation (1945 - 1954) • Second Generation (1955 - 1964) • Third Generation (1965 - 1974) • Fourth Generation (1975 - 1990) • Fifth Generation (1991 - present) We’ve used approximate dates against each generations which are normally accepted. Figure 1. UNIVAC - First Generation The main features of First Generation are: • Vacuum tube technology • Unreliable • Supported Machine language only • Very costly • Generate lot of heat • Slow Input/Output device • Huge size • Need of A.C. • Non portable • Consumed lot of electricity Some computer of this generation were: • ENIAC • EDVAC • UNIVAC • IBM-701 • IBM-650
  2. 2. B. Second Generation (1955-1964) C. Third Generation (1965-1974) Transistors replaced vacuum tubes and ushered in the second generation of computers. The transistor was invented in 1947 but did not see widespread use in computers until the late 1950s. The transistor was far superior to the vacuum tube, allowing computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy-efficient and more reliable than their first-generation predecessors. Though the transistor still generated a great deal of heat that subjected the computer to damage, it was a vast improvement over the vacuum tube. Second-generation computers still relied on punched cards for input and printouts for output. Second-generation computers moved from cryptic binary machine language to symbolic, or assembly, languages, which allowed programmers to specify instructions in words. Highlevel programming languages were also being developed at this time, such as early versions of COBOL and FORTRAN. These were also the first computers that stored their instructions in their memory, which moved from a magnetic drum to magnetic core technology. There were Batch processing and Multiprogramming Operating system used.The first computers of this generation were developed for the atomic energy industry. The development of the integrated circuit was the hallmark of the third generation of computers. Transistors were miniaturized and placed on silicon chips, called semiconductors, which drastically increased the speed and efficiency of computers.Instead of punched cards and printouts, users interacted with third generation computers through keyboards and monitors and interfaced with an operating system, which allowed the device to run many different applications at one time with a central program that monitored the memory. Computers for the first time became accessible to a mass audience because they were smaller and cheaper than their predecessors. In this generation Remote processing, Time-sharing, Real-time, Multi-programming Operating System were used.High level language (FORTRAN-II TO IV, COBOL, PASCAL PL/1, BASIC, ALGOL-68 etc.) were used during this generation. Figure 3. Figure 2. IBM 1620 - Second Generation The main features of Second Generation are: • Use of transistors • Reliable as compared to First generation computers • Smaller size as compared to First generation computers • Generate less heat as compared to First generation computers • Consumed less electricity as compared to First generation computers • Faster than first generation computers • Still very costly • A.C. needed • Support machine and assmebly languages Some computer of this generation were: • IBM 1620 • IBM 7094 • CDC 1604 • CDC 3600 • UNIVAC 1108 IBM 370/168 - Third Generation The main features of Third Generation are: • IC used • More reliable • Smaller size • Generate less heat • Faster • Lesser maintenance • Still costly • A.C needed • Consumed lesser electricity • Support high level language Some computer of this generation were: • IBM-360 series • Honeywell-6000 series • PDP(Personal Data Processor) • IBM-370/168 • TDC-316 D. Fourth Generation (1975-1990) The fourth generation of computers is marked by the use of Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits.VLSI circuits having about 5000 transistors and other circuit elements and their associated circuits on a single chip made it possible to have microcomputers of fourth generation. Fourth Generation computers became more powerful, compact, reliable, and
  3. 3. affordable. As a result, it gave rise to personal computer (PC) revolution. In this generation Time sharing, Real time, Networks, Distributed Operating System were used.All the Higher level languages like C and C++, DBASE etc. were used in this generation. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the components of the computerfrom the central processing unit and memory to input/output controlson a single chip. In 1981 IBM introduced its first computer for the home user, and in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh. Microprocessors also moved out of the realm of desktop computers and into many areas of life as more and more everyday products began to use microprocessors. Fourth generation computers also saw the development of GUIs, the mouse and handheld devices. • • • • Neural networks Game Playing Development of expert systems to make decisions in real life situations Natural language understanding and generation All the Higher level languages like C and C++, Java, .Net etc. are used in this generation.Quantum computation and molecular and nanotechnology will radically change the face of computers in years to come. The goal of fifth-generation computing is to develop devices that respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization. Figure 5. Figure 4. CRAY-1 - Fourth Generation The main features of Fifth Generation are: • The main features of Fourth Generation are: • VLSI technology used • Very cheap • Portable and reliable • Use of PC’s • Very small size • Pipeline processing • No A.C. needed • Concept of internet was introduced • Great developments in the fields of networks • Computers became easily available • • • • • • E. Fifth Generation (1991-present) Fifth generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence, are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition, that are being used today. The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping to make artificial intelligence a reality. AI is an emerging branch in computer science, which interprets means and method of making computers think like human beings. AI includes: • Robotics ULSI technology Development of true artificial intelligence Development of Natural language processing Advancement in Parallel Processing Advancement in Superconductor technology More user friendly interfaces with multimedia features Availability of very powerful and compact computers at cheaper rates Some computer of this generation were: • • • Some computer of this generation were: • DEC 10 • STAR 1000 • PDP 11 • CRAY-1(Super Computer) • CRAY-X-MP(Super Computer) Laptop - Fifth Generation • • Desktop Laptop NoteBook UltraBook ChromeBook II. C ONCLUSION Researching, studying and writing on History of the Computer has indeed been a fulfilling, but challenging task and has brought about greater appreciation of several work done by scientists of old, great developmental research carried out by more recent scientists and of course the impact all such innovations have made on the development of the human race. It has generated greater awareness of the need to study history of the computer as a means of knowing how to develop or improve on existing computer technology. The saying that there is nothing absolutely new under the sun is indeed real because the same world resources but fresh ideas have been used over the years to improve on existing technologies.
  4. 4. R EFERENCES [1] Kai Hwang and Faye A. Briggs, Computer Architecture and Parallel Processing, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1984. [2] Kai Hwang and Naresh Jotwani, Advanced Computer Architecture, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 2011. [3] Carl Hamacher, Zvonko Vranesic and Safwat Zaky, Computer Organization, 5th ed. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 2002.

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