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Monday, July 8, 2013

computer history and its generation

The History of the Computer Generations

Punched Card System
Punched Card System
Source: Wikipedia

The evolution of computers

It is very hard to believe but computer's era begins in ancient times. The first mechanical devices that somewhat can be called a limited function computers appeared in 2500 BC. Well, Sumerian abacus cannot be called a real computer, but it's goal was helping in various calculations. The slide rule, that can be called a mechanical analog computer appeared in 1620. Looking deeply in the ancient history many interesting and useful machines, that can be referred as primitive computers can be found. There were machines which calculated the astronomical positions of stellar bodies. Various devices, such as astolabe also can be called computers.

The First Generation: Vacuum Tubes

The first computer generation appeared in 1946-1958. It is the era of vacuum tubes. The computers of this era were huge, very expensive, slow and had limited application capabilities. The first computer that had vacuum tubes was constructed in 1946 by J. P. Eckert and J. Mauchly. Their machine was called ENIAC (Electronc Numerical Integrator and Computer). ENIAC had thousands of vacuum tubes.

The Second Generation: Transistors

The second generation of computers lasted from 1959-1964. It was a very short era. The vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors. Actually, the invention of a transistor had a huge influence on the development of electronics.
The invention of transistor allowed computer to became smaller, faster and cheaper. These computer also were more efficient and more reliable that the computers of the first generation. The first symbolic (assembly) programming languages appeared in this generation. Also, the backgrounds of high level programing languages were developed. The first versions of COBOL and FORTRAN appeared.
The computer instructions storage also changed. The step from magnetic drum to magnetic core technology was made.

The Third Generation: Integrated Circuits

The invention of integrated circuits were another great step in developing semiconductors technologies. The third computer generations appeared. The third generation lasted from 1964 to 1971.
The appearance of integrated circuits allowed to place miniaturized transistors on silicon chips. This technological invention allowed computers to increase speed and to become more efficient.


The Fourth Generation: Microprocessors

The appearance of microprocessor allowed the fourth generation of computers to appear. This happed in 1971. At the moment we still have fourth generation computers. Microprocessor is a device that have thousand integrated circuits (millions of transistors) built in one silicon chip. The fourth generation was started by Intel 4004 chip that was developed in 1971. The greatest thing in computer evolution was that the whole computer that in first generation filled the whole room, now was integrated into a small chip.



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