History of Computers
i. First generation computers (1946-1956)
They made use of vacuum tubes to store and process information. The tubes
consumed a lot of power and generated a lot of heat (overheating). They were huge in
size and occupy a room. They used magnetic tape. Storage capacity was very low i.e.
2kb and speed of processing were also very low. The first machine in this category was
ENIAC (electronic discrete variable automatic computer) and later came UNIVAC
(universal automatic computers).
ii. Second-generation computers (1957-1967)
These computers used transistors after the invention of transistors. The transistor is
smaller cheaper and produced less heat than vacuum tubes and consumed less power.
The cost of computers decreased and the speed increased. The second generation saw
the introduction of more complex ALU and CPU, the use of high-level languages, and
the provision of system software with the computer. Data access time was measured in
micro-seconds. Removable disk storage units were developed for use on these
iii. Third generation computers (1965-1980)
This introduced the use of very small electronic circuits called integrated circuits (IC)
by combining several transistors between 3 transistors to make 1 IC. With IC
you can house thousands of transistors in one IC. This change further decreased the
size, heat output, and maintenance complexity of the computers while increasing
their speed. The small circuitry that resulted improved the processing speed i.e. 10 times
iv. Fourth generation computers (the 1980s)
Use large-scale integration circuits that housed hundreds of transistors and very
large IC, between 200,000 to 400, 000 in one IC. Memory used includes
magnetic disc and optical disc. Memory size expanded up to several MB and speed
was 10 times faster. This generation marked the origin of minicomputers in use
v. Fifth generation computers (1990-current)
The design of these computers was based on VLSI (very large scale integration)
technology, the microchip technology that gave rise to the smaller computers known
as the microcomputers in use today. These computers are used in networking.
Examples of microcomputers are IBM PCs BBC micro etc. the microcomputers are
usually described as PCs or stand-alone or desktop computers because they were
designed primarily to serve a single person at a time. The fifth-generation is still a state-of-the-art technology that relies on predictions and further technological refinements.
Research shows that the trend in computer technology revolution is that there is;
> Continual decrease in computer size
> Improved speed and processing power.
> Decrease in computers and the related facilities cost
> The number of components in the computer per circuit (IC) greatly increased over
500,000 physical elements e.g. transistors, capacities, diodes, etc per chip(IC).
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