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Generations of Modern Computers

Before Going to see the generations of modern computer we have to see first their history. The ‘Abacus’ was the calculating machine probably originated in China about 3000 years ago is considered as the first computer. This device allows users to make computations using a system of sliding beads arranged on a frame.
          In 1642 Blaise Pascal, a French scientist invented a first mechanical adding machine called ‘Pascaline’ which is used to perform only a simple calculation.
          In 1694, a German mathematician and philosopher, Gottfried Wilhem Von Leibniz, invented an electro mechanical computer called ‘Rotating Wheel Calculator’. It was the improved version of ‘Pascaline’. It worked by a system of gears and dials.
In 1801, French man Joseph- Marie Jacquard developed “punched cards’ to encode the machine instructions.
          In 1834, a Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Charles Babbage invented ‘Difference Engine’ to perform differential equations. It could perform calculations and print the result automatically.
          After working on Difference Engine for 10 years, Babbage was suddenly inspired to begin work on the first general-purpose computer called ‘Analytical Engine’.
          In 1889, an American inventor Herman Hollerith developed a machine called ‘census Machine’. Hollerith brought his punched card reader into business world, founding the ‘Tabulating Machine Company’ in 1896, late it become International Business Machine (IBM) in 1924.

Generations of Modern Computers
                   Computer generation means a step of advancement in technology. It also reflects the growth of computer industry. The advancement in technology existed not only in hardware but also in software.
      i.     First Generation Computers(1945-1956)
    ii.     Second Generation Computers(1956-1963)
  iii.     Third Generation Computers(1964-1971)
  iv.     Fourth Generation Computers(1971-Present)
    v.     Fifth Generation Computers(Present and Beyond)
      i.     First Generation Computers(1945-1956)         During Second World War, government sought to develop computers to exploit their potential strategic importance. A Harvard engineer working in IBM succeeded in producing an all electronic calculator by 1944. It was called ‘Mark I’ an electronic relay computer.
        In 1945 the first fully electronic computer ‘Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator’ (ENIAC) was developed by John Presper Eckert and John W Mauchly, which was the general purpose computer 1,000 faster than MARK I.
        In 1945 John Von Neumann designed the ‘Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer’ (EDVAC) with a memory to hold both a stored program as well as data. This stored memory technique (stored program concept) as well as the ‘conditional control transfer, that allowed the computer to be stopped at any point and then resumed.
        In 1950, UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer) built by Remington Rand, became one of the best commercially available computers to take advantage of these advances.
          The important features of the first generation system are:
a.     Vacuum tubes for internal operations.(Heat and reliability problems)
b.    Magnetic drums were used for memory.
c.     Punched cards were used for input and output.
d.    Low level languages for programming were used.
e.     Processing speed was very slow.
f.      It was very expensive.
g.    The system was not very powerful.
h.    The system was huge and non portable.
i.      It did not have much memory.
               Ex: ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC

    ii.     Second Generation Computers(1956-1963)
                    The important features of second generation systems are:
a.     Transistors were used for internal operations.
b.    Magnetic core for main memory was used.
c.     Magnetic tapes and disks were used for secondary memory.
d.    High level languages were used for developing programs. Such as COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) and FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator)
e.     The systems were faster, more powerful, more reliable, cheaper, and smaller in overall size and had more memory.
               Ex: IBM-1401, CDC 1604

  iii.     Third Generation Computers(1964-1971)
               The important features of third generation systems are:
a.     Integrated circuits on silicon chips were used for internal operations.
b.    Minicomputers were introduced.
c.     Saw the emergence of the software industry.
d.    The computers were able to reduce computational time.
e.     Maintenance cost was low as hardware failures were rare.
f.      Systems were totally general purpose and could be used for a number of commercial applications.
g.    The systems were faster, more powerful, more reliable, cheaper, smaller in overall size and had more memory.
Ex: IBM System/360, UNIVAC 1108/9000

  iv.     Fourth Generation Computers(1971-Present)
               The important features of fourth generation systems are:
a.     More circuits on chips LSI, VLSI
b.    Introduction to microprocessors.
c.     Microcomputers and personal computers which were affordable was available to the common man.
d.    Use of chips for memory.
e.     The cost of assembling reduced to a great extent.
f.      Easily portable because of their small size.
g.    Hardware failures are negligible.
h.    The systems were faster, more powerful, more reliable, cheaper, smaller in over all size and had more memory.
               Ex: IBM-3030, HP-3000, All modern PC’s

    v.     Fifth Generation Computers(Present-Beyond)
               The important features of fifth generation systems are:
a.     Development of storage technology.
b.    Advancement in networking technology
c.     Systems are more reliable, faster and cheaper
d.    Development of supercomputers.
e.     Concepts of parallel processing in computers.
f.      Computers are more intelligent.
g.    Development of robots to assist human beings.

Ex: PARAM- 10,000, CRAY Machines

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