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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is the evolution of computers?
3.
First Generation – Vacuum Tubes (1940 – 1956)
3.1.
Example
3.2.
Advantages
3.3.
Disadvantages
4.
Second Generation: Transistors (1956-1963)
4.1.
Example
4.2.
Advantages
4.3.
Disadvantages
5.
Third generation: Integrated Circuits (1964-1971)
5.1.
Example
5.2.
Advantages
5.3.
Disadvantages
6.
Fourth generation: Microprocessor (1971-Present)
6.1.
Example
6.2.
Advantages
6.3.
Disadvantages
7.
Fifth-generation: Artificial Intelligence (2010 Onwards)
7.1.
Example
7.2.
Advantages
7.3.
Disadvantages
8.
Frequently Asked Questions
8.1.
What is the evolution of computers? 
8.2.
What are the 5 types of generation of computer? 
8.3.
What are the 4 eras of computer evolution?
8.4.
What are the 7 stages of evolution?
8.5.
What are the three characteristics of evolution?
9.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2024
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Evolution of Computer

Author Sinki Kumari
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Introduction

Discover the incredible evolution of computers, from room-sized giants to today's compact and accessible devices. For manipulating Data and Information, we use an electronic device called the computer. It can retrieve, store, and process data. Nowadays, we use computers in every field to send emails, make documents, store data in spreadsheets, play games, and browse the web.

Evolution of Computer

In this article you will learn about the evolution of computers and their 5 different generations. 

Also read, microprogrammed control unit

What is the evolution of computers?

In the early 1940s, the first computing system designed was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer).

Properties-

  • Consisted of 18,000 buzzing electronic switches ( Vacuum tubes )
  • Have 42 panels each 9'x 2'x1'
  • Cooled by forced air and arranged in a U-shape around the room's perimeter.

 

Now we will go through the evolution of computer -

  •  In 1937, John Vincent Atanasoff and his assistant, Clifford E. Berry, designed Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), known as the first digital electronic computer ( Not programmable ).
  • Then German inventor Konrad Zuse in 1941, invented Z3, which was the first working programmable, fully automatic computing machine.
  • In 1947 at Bell Laboratories, transistors were invented, which were a quarter of the size of vacuum tubes and consumed less power, but the complicated circuits were still difficult to manage.
  • At the same time, Integrated Circuit was invented by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, for which Noyce filed a patent in July 1959.
  • Robert Noyce co-founded Intel Electronics company in 1968, which is still the worldwide market leader in integrated circuit manufacture, research, and development.
  • As the first personal computer, in 1983, Lisa was launched with a graphical user interface (GUI). It was commercially available, operated on the Motorola 68000, featured dual floppy disc drives, a 5 MB hard drive, and 1MB RAM.
  • Apple released the Macintosh Portable in 1990. It was expensive and heavy weighted(7.3 kg (16 lb)). It was discontinued only after two years and did not meet with great success.
  • After that, in the same year, the Touchstone Delta supercomputer was introduced by Intel with 512 microprocessors. This technical achievement was noteworthy because it served as a model for some of the world's fastest multiprocessor computers.
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First Generation – Vacuum Tubes (1940 – 1956)

Vacuum tube technology was used in the first generation of computer evolution (1940–1956). These huge, heavy computers produced heat and consumed a lot of power, however they could only handle little amounts of data. They established electrical digital computing and binary math in spite of numerous malfunctions and reliability problems, setting the foundation for later developments in computer technology, such as stored program architecture and the switch to transistor-based computers.

Period: 1940-1956 

ENIAC was invented by J.P.Eckert and J.W.Mauchy, which was the first successful electronic computer.

Example

  1. ENIAC
  2. EDVAC
  3. IBM-701
  4. IBM-650
  5. UNIVAC

Advantages

  1. In some milliseconds, this computer can calculate.
  2. It used vacuum tubes, which were the only electronic components available.

Disadvantages

  1. The immense size and weight were 30 tons.
  2. Were based on vacuum tubes.
  3. Due to the presence of magnetic drums, they can store a small amount of information.
  4. Work efficiency was significantly less.
  5. Large energy consumption.

Second Generation: Transistors (1956-1963)

Transistor technology emerged in the second wave of computer evolution (1956–1963), displacing vacuum tubes. Computers were smaller and faster because to transistors, which were more dependable, power-efficient, and compact. Significant improvements in computing power occurred during this era, as computers became more widely available and easier to use. This led to a rise in computer use across a range of industries and opened the door for new breakthroughs.

Period: 1956-1963

These computers were dependent on transistors, not vacuum tubes.

Example

  1. Honeywell 400
  2. IBM 7094
  3. CDC 1604
  4. CDC 3600
  5. UNIVAC 1108

Advantages

  1. Heat generation was less as compared to the first generation.
  2. Low cost compared to the first generation.
  3. Speed faster as they can calculate in microseconds.
  4. Size decreased due to the use of transistors.

Disadvantages

  1. requirement of a cooling system and constant maintenance.
  2. For specific purposes, these can be used.

    See more, Instruction Format in Computer Architecture

Third generation: Integrated Circuits (1964-1971)

Computing was transformed by integrated circuit (IC) technology during the third generation of computer evolution (1964–1971). ICs increased computer capacity while significantly lowering size, cost, and power consumption by integrating many transistors on a single chip. Smaller, quicker, and more dependable computers were developed during this time, opening up new applications in industry, government, and education and providing the groundwork for contemporary computer systems.

Period: 1964-1971

these were based on integrated circuits invented by Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby In 1958-1959. these were known to contain several transistors.

Example

  1. PDP-8
  2. ICL 2900
  3. IBM 360
  4. PDP-11
  5. IBM 370

Advantages

  1. Fast and reliable 
  2. Cheaper
  3. small size as compared to the previous generation.
  4. Have a big storage capacity.
  5. Computational time was decreased from microseconds to nanoseconds.

Disadvantages

  1. It wasn't easy to maintain IC chips.
  2. Requirement of sir conditioning.
  3. The very advanced technology was necessary for the production of integrated circuit chips.

Fourth generation: Microprocessor (1971-Present)

The introduction of microprocessor technology, which integrated many central processing units (CPUs) into a single chip, marked the beginning of the fourth generation of computer evolution (1971–present). This discovery made it possible to create strong, portable, and reasonably priced computers, which in turn facilitated the widespread use of embedded systems, smartphones, laptops, and personal computers (PCs).

Period: 1971-Present

These computers were based on microprocessors. A microprocessor is utilized to execute any logical and mathematical function in any software in a computer.

Example

  1. IBM 4341
  2. STAR 1000
  3. DEC 10
  4. PUP 11

Advantages

  1. Negligible heat generation.
  2. Requirement of less maintenance.
  3. As compared to the previous generation have small size.
  4. Usage of high-level language can be done.

Disadvantages

  1. For making ICs, advanced technology is required.
  2. In many circumstances, air conditioning is necessary due to the presence of ICs.
  3. The design and production of microprocessors are complicated.

Fifth-generation: Artificial Intelligence (2010 Onwards)

The rapid progress of artificial intelligence (AI) technology characterizes the fifth generation of computer evolution, which began in 2010. Innovations in machine learning, neural networks, and natural language processing have enabled computers to do complex tasks like language translation, image identification, and independent decision-making. Intelligent systems that can learn, adapt, and communicate with people on their own are becoming ever more common in this day and age.

Period: 2010 onwards

These machines are based on artificial intelligence. The fifth generation's objective is to produce a device that can respond to natural language input, learn, and self-organize. This generation depends on the manufacture of 10 million electrical components for microprocessor chips with ULSI(Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology.

Example

  1. Desktop
  2. NoteBook
  3. UltraBook
  4. Laptop
  5. Chromebook

Advantages

  1. Works faster
  2. Have unique features and are available in different sizes.
  3. These computers have multimedia features.
  4. These computers have user-friendly interfaces.

Disadvantages

  1. Low-level languages are needed.
  2.  Human brains become dull and doomed because of these high functionality generations.
     

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Device Manager in Computer

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the evolution of computers? 

Computer evolution: From early mechanical calculators, vacuum tube-based machines, transistors, integrated circuits, and microprocessors to modern supercomputers and mobile devices.

What are the 5 types of generation of computer? 

  1. First Generation: Vacuum tubes, early 1940s.
  2. Second Generation: Transistors, late 1950s.
  3. Third Generation: Integrated circuits, 1960s-70s.
  4. Fourth Generation: Microprocessors, 1970s-80s.
  5. Fifth Generation: AI and parallel processing, 1980s-present.

What are the 4 eras of computer evolution?

  1. Pre-Mechanical Era: Abacus and early calculators.
  2. Mechanical Era: Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine.
  3. Electromechanical Era: Hollerith's punched card machines.
  4. Electronic Era: Vacuum tubes, transistors, and modern computers.

What are the 7 stages of evolution?

The seven phases of computer evolution are as follows: vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits, microprocessors, mechanical computing, personal computing, and artificial intelligence. These phases mark significant developments and turning points in the history of computing technology.

What are the three characteristics of evolution?

In the case of computers, the three traits of evolution are: improvement in technology, rise in complexity and capability, and flexibility in response to shifting requirements. These features are essential for continuous innovation and advancement in computer technology.

Conclusion

In this blog, we learned about the Evolution of Computers. As computers continue to evolve, they will play an increasingly pivotal role in shaping our future, furthering technological advancements, and enabling new possibilities that were once unimaginable. 

Check out our blog on Repeater in Computer Network. You can also check out the  Computer Organization and Computer Architecture- Introduction.

Take a look at our Guided paths on Coding Ninjas Studio to learn more about DSA, Competitive Programming, JavaScript, System Design, etc.

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