From the 19th century to the present day, the role of the computer in its users' lives is crucial. However, in today's generation, this computer may work a little differently and more advanced than in the 19th century. But it served the purpose it is to its users and remained the same. This tutorial describes various generations of computers in detail.

List of Five Generations of Computers

The journey of five generations of computers begins with vacuum tube circuitry from the 1940s and goes beyond the methods and approaches of artificial intelligence (AI) to the present day. These are as follows:

First Generation Computers

By 1940, vacuum tubes, electronic devices that regulate the flow of electrons in a vacuum, were used. These were the first computer systems that the users utilized for circuitry and magnetic drums and were usually massive, capturing up an entire room. These computers were very costly to operate in the spare of employing a great deal of electricity. At that time, the most common computer language that the first generation computers depended on was the machine language, the lowest-level programming language that the computers understood for executing operations. The UNIVAC and ENIAC computers are specimens of first-generation computing devices.

Characteristics of First-Generation Computers

  • The main electronic component of first-generation computers is the vacuum tubes.
  • It operated in machine language.
  • Its primary memories were the Magnetic tapes and magnetic drums.
  • It employed input/output devices like paper tape and punched cards.

Second Generation Computers

In 1956, the technology of transistors replaced the bulkier generation of vacuum tubes. After the invention of these transistors, the dimensions of the computer were also reduced. Second-generation computers evolved smaller in size compared to first-generation computers. Second-generation computers developed from enigmatic binary machine language to representational symbolic systems, or assembly languages, that authorized the programmers to appoint instructions in words or phrases. IBM1400 series, PDP-8, IBM 7090 and 7094, UNIVAC 1107, CDC 3600, etc., are a few examples of the second generation.

Characteristics of Second-Generation Computers

  • The main electronic component of second-generation computers is electronic transistors.
  • It operated in Machine language and assembly language.
  • Its primary memories were the Magnetic core and magnetic tape or magnetic disk.
  • Its Input/output devices were the Magnetic tape and punched cards.

Third Generation Computers

This generation started developing integrated circuits in 1964. Instead of using punch cards and printouts, users could interact with third-generation computers via keyboards and monitors and interfaced with an operating system. For the first time, computers reached a mass audience, as they were smaller and cheaper than the past prototypes. Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor developed integrated circuits by 1950.

Characteristics of Third-Generation Computers

  • The main electronic component of third-generation computers is integrated circuits.
  • It operated in High-level language.
  • Its primary memories were the large magnetic core and magnetic tape/disk.
  • Its Input/output devices were the Magnetic tape, monitor, keyboard, printer, etc.

Fourth Generation Computers

By 1971, users operated the first microprocessors, the Large-Scale Integration (LSI) circuits created on one chip called microprocessors. The microprocessor was conducted in the fourth generation of computers, as developers built thousands of integrated circuits onto a single silicon chip. What if the first generation served an entire room that could accommodate within a palm? The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the computer components from the Central Processing Unit and memory to input or output authorities on a single chip.

Characteristics of Fourth-Generation Computers

  • The main electronic components of fourth-generation computers are very large-scale integration (VLSI) and the microprocessor (VLSI contains thousands of transistors inside a single microchip).
  • It operated in High-level language.
  • Its primary memory was the semiconductor memory (mainly RAM, ROM, etc.)
  • Its Input/output devices were the pointing devices, optical scanning, keyboard, monitor, printer, etc.

Fifth Generation Computers

The technology on which the fifth generation of computers relies is AI. It authorizes computers to conduct like humans. Today's computers are so developed that users utilize them in every distinct field, primarily accounting, constructing buildings, space research, engineering technologies, and other types of analysis. The principal purpose of fifth-generation computing is to create devices that react to natural language input and are competent in learning and self-organizing.

Characteristics of Fifth-Generation Computers

  • The main electronic components of fourth-generation computers are ultra-large-scale integration (ULSI) and the parallel processing technique.
  • It operated in natural human language.
  • Its Input/output devices were the Trackpad, touch screen, pen, speech input, light scanner, etc.

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