Table of Contents
Generations of Computers
Generations of computers: The first electronic computer was designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania based on vacuum tube technology. Computers have been divided into five generations according to the development of technologies used to fabricate the processors, memories and I/O units.
1. Generation (1945 – 55) Bulky, vacuum based and costly, used assembly language which was translated to machine level language for execution. These computers were used mainly for scientific calculations. Examples: ENIAC, EDSAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC. Computer and its Components 9
2. Generation (1955 – 65) Smaller than vacuum based computers, but better performance-wise, used transistors instead of vacuum tubes. High level languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL were used. Punched cards continued to be used during this period. Computers, then, were used increasingly in business, industry and commercial organizations. Examples: IBM 7030, Honeywell 400.
3. Generation (1965 – 75) Small Scale Integration and Medium Scale Integration technology were implemented in CPU, I/O processors etc. Faster processors with magnetic core memories that were later replaced by RAM and ROM. This is when microprogramming was introduced as were operating system software. Database management, multi-user application, online systems like closed loop process control, airline reservation, interactive query systems, automatic industrial control, etc. emerged during this period. Examples: System 360 Mainframe from IBM, PDP-8 Mini Computer from Digital Equipment Corporation.
4. Generation (1975 – 89) Microprocessors were introduced where complete processors and large section of main memory could be implemented in a single chip. CRT screen, laser & ink jet printers, scanners etc. were developed and so were LAN and WANS. C and UNIX were used. Examples: Intel’s 8088,80286,80386,80486 .., Motorola’s 68000, 68030, 68040, Apple II, CRAY I/2/X/MP etc.
5. Generation: 1989 to present Computers use extensive parallel processing, multiple pipelines, multiple processors etc. Portable notebook computers introduced. They also started using object oriented languages such as JAVA. Quantum mechanism and nanotechnology available here will radically change computers for all times. Examples: IBM notebooks, Pentium PCs-Pentium 1/2/3/4/Dual core/Quad core. SUN work stations, Origin 2000, PARAM 10000, IBM SP/2,Xp,Win7,Vista.
six generation (2010 to present)
Thesix generation of computers is beginning to use AI (artificial intelligence), an exciting technology with many potential applications around the world. Leaps have been made in AI technology and computers, but there is still room for much improvement.
One of the more well-known examples of AI in computers is IBM’s Watson, which was featured on the TV show Jeopardy as a contestant. Other better-known examples include Apple’s Siri on the iPhone and Microsoft’s Cortana on Windows 8 and Windows 10 computers. The Google search engine also utilizes AI to process user searches.
Sixth generation (future generations)
As of 2021, most still consider us to be in the fifth generation as AI continues to be developed. One possible contender for a future sixth generation is the quantum computer. However, until quantum computing becomes more developed and widely used, it’s still only a promising technology.
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