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June 18, 2013

The Generations of Computers

The Five Generations of Computers:===
Each  generation  of  computer  is  characterized  by a  major  technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate, resulting in increasingly  smaller,  cheaper,  more  powerful  and  more  efficient  and  reliable  devices.

First Generation (1940-1956) Vacuum Tubes :===  First  generation  computers  relied  on  machine language,  the  lowest-level  programming language understood by computers, to perform operations, and they  could  only  solve  one  problem  at  a  time.  Input  was  based  on  punched  cards  and paper  tape,  and  output  was  displayed  on  printouts.   The  UNIVAC  and ENIAC computers  are  examples  of  first-generation  computing  devices.  The  UNIVAC  was  the  first  commercial  computer  delivered  to  a  business  client,  the  U.S. Census Bureau in 1951.

Second Generation (1956-1963) Transistors :=== Second-generation  computers  moved  from  cryptic binary  machine  language  to symbolic,  or assembly,  languages,  which  allowed  programmers  to  specify instructions  in  words. High-level  programming  languages were  also  being  developed  at  this  time,  such  as  early  versions  of COBOL and FORTRAN.  These  were also the first computers that stored their instructions in their memory, which moved from a magnetic drum to magnetic core technology The  first  computers  of  this  generation  were  developed  for  the  atomic  energy  industry.

Third Generation (1964-1971) Integrated Circuits :=== The development of the  integrated  circuit  was the hallmark of the third generation of  computers.  Transistors  were miniaturized  and  placed  on silicon chips, called semiconductors,  which  drastically  increased  the  speed  and  efficiency  of computers.Instead  of  punched  cards  and  printouts,  users  interacted  with  third  gene ration computers  through keyboards and  monitorsand interfaced with  an operating system,  which  allowed  the  device  to  run  many  different applications at  one  time with  a  central  program  that  monitored  the  memory.  Computers  for  the  first  time became accessible to a mass audience because they were smaller and cheaper than their predecessors.

Fourth Generation (1971-Present) Microprocessors :===The  microprocessor brought  the  fourth  generation  of  computers,  as  thousands  of integrated circuits were built onto a single silicon chip. What in the first generation filled an entire room could now fit in the palm of the hand. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the components of the computer —from the central processing  unit and memory to input/output controls—on a single chip. In  1981 IBM introduced  its  first  computer  for  the  home  user,  and  in 1984 Apple  introduced  the  Macintosh.  Microprocessors also moved out of the realm of desktop computers and into many areas of life as more and more everyday products began to use microprocessors. As these small computers became more powerful, they could be linked together to form  networks,  which  eventually  led  to  the  development  of  the  Internet.  Fourth generation computers  also  saw  the  development  of GUIs, the  mouse and  handhelddevices
Fifth Generation (Present and Beyond) Artificial Intelligence :===Fifth  generation  computing  devices,  based  on artificial  intelligence,  are  still  in development,  though  there  are  some  applications,  such  as   voice  recognition,  that are being used today. The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping to  make  artificial  intelligence  a  reality.  Quantum  computation and  molecular and  nanotechnology will radically change the face of computers in years to come. The  goal  of  fifth-generation  computing  is  to  develop  devices  that  respond to natural  language  input and are capable of learning and self-organization.                                                               

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