In the 90th century, the computer is recognized by a large part of the population. In 2000, they began to be part of people’s daily lives. The truth is that their history dates back many years with a wide generation of computers that, even in the 21st century, still ignore them.
The lacking an operating system built with valve electronics through transistors to microprocessors. These are just some of the characteristics that make each generation of computer stand out. But what were those first machines like and what were they used for?
Let’s take a look back to better understand all of this!
Generation of Computer with Images:
The First Generation of Computer (1946-1959)
In 1946, the first electronic digital computer called ENIAC was developed. By the year 1936 (10 years ago), it was already giving shape and meaning to that is now known as computer, thanks to the manufacture of the Z1, which for many is the first programmable computer in history, despite being recognized as a binary mechanical calculator.
In this generation, there was great ignorance of the capabilities of computers, since a study was carried out at this time that determined that with twenty computers the United States market in the field of data processing would be saturated. This generation spanned the 1950s. And it is known as the first generation.
Between the years 1951 to 1955, several models of computers were manufactured and built that marked the commercial beginning of this great technological invention. To this select group belong the UNIVAC I created by the same inventors as ENIAC and cataloged as the first commercial computer procreated in the United States and the Zuse Z22 also developed by Konrad Zuse under the vacuum tube system.
These machines had the following characteristics:
- It used vacuum tubes to process information.
- It used punch cards to enter data and programs.
- They used magnetic cylinders to store information and internal instructions.
- They were extremely large, used a great deal of electricity, generated a great deal of heat, and were extremely slow.
- The binary system began to be used to represent the data.
- In this generation the machines are large and expensive (costing about $ 10,000).
- The most successful computer of the 1st generation was the IBM 650, of which several hundred were produced. This computer that used a secondary memory scheme called a magnetic drum, which is the predecessor of today’s discs.
The Second Generation of Computer (1955-1965)
In this generation, computers are reduced in size and cost less. Many companies appear and computers were quite advanced for their time like the Burroughs 5000 series and the University of Manchester ATLAS. Some computers were programmed with perforated tape and others by wiring on board.
The great feat of this generation was the replacement of vacuum tubes by transistors, accompanied by the use of ferrite core memories and magnetic drums to store information, which allowed the manufacture of smaller computers, characterized by better power, speed, and reliability. During this period, high-level languages such as ALGOL, FORTRAN, and COBOL began to be used, the latter two being the programming languages that the great computer scientist Grace Hopper helped to develop, thanks to her knowledge of FLOW-MATIC. The most prominent computers during this time were:
IBM 1401: It was a general purpose computer launched in 1959 developed by IBM that had a system based on transistors and punched cards. Due to the large number of copies sold (around 12,000), it was considered one of the most successful machines of the moment.
IBM 1620: It was a computer created primarily for scientific use and the first of its kind to be deemed economical. It had a magnetic core memory and was released in 1959.
- They used transistors to process information.
- Transistors were smaller, faster, and more reliable than vacuum tubes.
- 200 transistors could be accommodated in the same space as a vacuum tube.
- They are used small magnetic rings to store information and instructions. Amount of heat and they were extremely slow.
- Computer programs that were developed during the first generation were improved.
- New programming languages such as COBOL and FORTRAN were developed, which were commercially accessible.
- They were used in applications of airline reservation systems, air traffic control and general purpose simulations.
- The United States Navy develops the first flight simulator, “Whirlwind-I”.
- They emerged minicomputers and remote terminals.
- Computers began to shrink.
Third Generation of Computer (1965-1971)
The third generation of computers emerged with the development of integrated circuits (silicon chips) in which thousands of electronic components are placed in a miniature integration. Computers again got smaller, faster, gave off less heat, and were more energy efficient. The IBM-360 computer dominated sales of the third generation of computers since its introduction in 1965. The PDP-8 from Digital Equipment Corporation was the first minicomputer.
With the invention of the closed circuit or chip by American engineers Jack S. Kilby and Robert Noyce, computer design is completely revolutionized. The first magnetic disks appear and the electronic components are integrated into a single piece or chip that houses capacitors, transistors and diodes inside, which help to significantly increase the charging speed and reduce the consumption of electrical energy. In this generation, computers are characterized by having greater flexibility, and reliability, being smaller in size and taking up little space. The most outstanding machines of the time were:
CDC 6600: It was created in 1965 by the American Seymour Cray and was intended for the main use for research in high-energy nuclear physics.
IBM 360: Designed by the IBM company, it was one of the computers that influenced the development of the entire 3rd generation of computers.
- Integrated circuits were developed to process information.
- “Chips” were developed to store and process information. A “chip” is a piece of silicon that contains miniature electronic components called semiconductors.
- Integrated circuits remember data by storing information as electrical charges.
- Multiprogramming arises.
- Computers can carry out both mathematical processing and analysis tasks.
- The “software” industry emerges.
- The IBM 360 and DEC PDP-1 minicomputers are developed.
- Computers are getting smaller, lighter, and more efficient again.
- They consumed less electricity; therefore, less heat was generated.
The Fourth Generation of Computer (1971-1980)
Microprocessors appear, which a great advance in microelectronics is, they are high-density integrated circuits with impressive speed. Microcomputers based on these circuits are extremely small and cheap, so their use is extended to the industrial market. Here are born the personal computers that have acquired enormous proportions and that have influenced society in general on the so-called “information revolution”.
In this stage, personal computers become the protagonists of computing. All the elements that make up the CPU are now stored in an integrated circuit known as microprocessors and a wide range of these elements are beginning to emerge, manufactured by the company Intel, currently recognized as the largest manufacturer of integrated circuits in the world. The first microprocessor called 4004 was developed by Intel in 1971 and in 1974 the first one designed for general use was introduced to the market. It is in this generation where the floppy appears
- The microprocessor was developed.
- More circuits are placed inside a “chip”.
- “LSI – Large Scale Integration circuit”.
- “VLSI – Very Large Scale Integration circuit”.
- Each “chip” can do different tasks.
- A single “chip” currently contains the control unit and the arithmetic/logic unit. The third component, the primary memory, is operated by other “chips”.
- Magnetic ring memory is replaced by silicon “chip” memory.
- Microcomputers are developed, that is, personal computers or PCs.
- Supercomputers are developed.
The Fifth Generation of Computer (1980 to present)
Two historical events mark the beginning of this stage. On the one hand, the 5th generation project commanded by Japan in 1982, whose main purpose was to build computers with more advanced technology under more powerful programming languages for machines and less complex for users. On the other, the construction of the first supercomputer with parallel processing capacity by Seymour Cray and his company Control Data Corporation called CDC 6600. In this generation, computers begin to perform tasks that still predominate today, such as automatic translation of a language to another. Also, digital storage is processed in gigabytes and DVD comes out.
In view of the accelerated march of microelectronics, industrial society has been given the task of also putting the development of software and systems with which computers are handled at that height. International competition arises for the dominance of the computer market, in which two leaders are emerging who, however, has not been able to reach the desired level: the ability to communicate with the computer in a more everyday language and not to through specialized control codes or languages.
Japan launched in 1983 the so-called “fifth generation computer program”, with the explicit objectives of producing machines with real innovations in the above criteria. And in the United States, a program under development is already active that pursues similar objectives, which can be summarized as follows:
- The microcomputer is developed, i.e. personal computers or PCs.
- A supercomputer is developed.
Artificial intelligence is the field of study that tries to apply human thought processes used in problem solving to the computer.
Robotics is the art and science of creating and using robots. A robot is an independent hybrid computing system that performs physical and computational activities. They are being designed with artificial intelligence so that they can respond more effectively to unstructured situations.
An expert system is an artificial intelligence application that uses a knowledge base of human experience to aid in problem solving.
The communication channels that interconnect terminals and computers are known as communication networks; all the “hardware” that support interconnects and all the “software” that manages the transmission.