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Thursday, August 20, 2020

History and Evolution of Computers


The computer may be classified into a number of generations. The classification may be based on:

Generations of Computers Based on Hardware:


First Generation Computers: (1945 -55)

  • The computer started with ENIAC.
  • 1951: It was then followed by the IBM UNIVACI (Universal Automatic Computer) built by Mauchly & Eckert.
  • This machine could perform business data processing.
  • Used: Vaccum tubes.
  • Because of vacuum tubes, computers were;
  • Very large,
  • Required lot of energy
  • Slow Input/Output
  • Suffered from heat & maintenance problems.
  • Language: Machine level language or machine language, Binary language.

Second Generation Computers: (1955 -65)

  • The Transistors were used in second-gen. computers- to overcome the difficulties faced in the first generations due to the use of vacuum tubes.
  • Transistor: It is a small component made of semiconductor devices. 
  • Benefits after use of transistors; 
  • the problems of heat were minimized.
  • The computer size was reduced.
  • Storage capacity - improved.
  • Machine language is replaced by higher-level languages: ALGOL, FORMAN.
  • Example of second-gen. computers: IBM 1620.

Third Generation Computers: (1965 -80)

  • The transistor is replaced by Integrated Circuits (IC).
  • These circuits are fixed on the silicon chip.
  • The silicon chip consumes less than 1/8th of an inch square on which 10 computer studies: 9 many electronic components like diodes, transistors, capacitors, etc. can be fixed.
  • The wire interconnections about the components of the circuit are minimized.
  • These computers were: smaller, faster & more flexible in terms of Input/Output.
  • It also satisfied the need for small business & computers became popular as "Minicomputers".
  • Language: C, COBOL, JAVA.
  • Example of third-gen. computers: IBM 360, PDP8, PDP11.

Fourth Generation Computers: (1980 -89)

  • The computer used large scale IC called VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration)
  • Because of VLSI, computers were: faster, smaller, reliable.
  • It soon evolved as interactive general-purpose machines that allow rapid application development.
  • It became more user-friendly & can be used widely for personal applications. Hence, it is called- "Personal Computers" (PC).
  • These computers can process billions of instruction/sec.
  • They are used for applications that require intensive numerical computations such as stock analysis, weather forecasting & other similar complex applications.
  • Language: SQL (Structured Query Language)
  • Example of fourth-gen. computers: IBM PC, Apple II, Supercomputer CRAY.

Fifth Generation Computer: (1989 -till)

  • The computers made smarter in terms of processing speed, user-friendliness & connectivity to the network.
  • These computers are portable & sophisticated.
  • The key features of the computers: Powerful desktops, notebooks, variety of storage mechanisms such as optical disks & advanced software technology such as OS & AI.
  • The languages are designed to make the computer solve as a given problem without the programmer. Example; voice recognition & intrusion detection. It uses AI techniques to meet their goal.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): can handle imprecision & supports human-like self-learning & problem-solving.
  • Example of fifth-gen. computers: IBM notebooks, Param 10000, Pentium PC.

Generations of Computer-Based on Software:

  • Software plays a vital role in computer systems by creating a bridge between computer hardware & computer user.
  • It can be considered as "Soul of Computer", without which the computer can't work.
  • Software is an organized collection of data & instructions given to computers in order to perform a given task. These components are data, instructions & documents about the software such as comments.
  • Program: The set of instructions.
  • Programming: The process of writing or coding.
  • Programmers: An individual who performs the programming or coding task.

There are two major types of software:

System Software:

  • It manages computer hardware & acts as an interface between computer hardware & software developed for business applications.
  • It provides functionalities like;
  • Booting computers properly, 
  • Managing memory, 
  • Channeling data from secondary memory to primary memory,
  • Example of system software: Operating system, Translator program.
  • Compiler: Some translator programs transform the whole source code written in a programming language (the source language) into another computer language- target language, binary language. Later the translated code is computed to the desired results.
  • Interpreters: Some translators program transform the source code into the target code in line by line fashion & produce the result at the same time.
  • Since interpreters try to convert the source program line by line, they can concentrate on a single line, hence it is not possible to analyze the source code.
  • Compliers are fast in comparison to interpreters.

Application Software:

  • It is a set of computer instructions that provide specific functions to users.
  • These functionalities may be general-purpose like- word processing or maybe very narrow, such as an organization's payroll program that generates pay-slips in the company's format, on the company's preprinted stationery.
  • It also supports business applications like printing reports from data stored, calculating bills, generating pay-slips, marking attendance, printing students' mark-sheets, etc.
  • Special software needs to be developed for this type of application support.



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