Spread the love


The history of first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth generation computer advantage and disadvantage and characteristics, discipline of computer science that emerged in the 20th century


Charles Babbage is known as the father of computers because of his immense contribution to the world of programming. His idea was soon developed into a programmable computer that could calculate and print logarithmic tables with huge precision. But there were many practical problems and the progress was slow.

First Generation (1941-1956):

First Generation computer

World War gave rise to numerous developments and started off the computer age. Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was produced by a partnership between University of Pennsylvania and the US government. It consisted of 18,000 vacuum tubes and 7000 resistors. It was developed by John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly and was a general purpose computer. “Von Neumann designed the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) in 1945 with a memory to hold both a stored program as well as data.” Von Neumann’s computer allowed for all the computer functions to be controlled by a single source.

Then in 1951 came the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC I), designed by Remington rand and collectively owned by US census bureau and General Electric. UNIVAC amazingly predicted the winner of 1952, presidential elections, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In first generation computers, the operating instructions or programs were specifically built for the task for which computer was manufactured. The Machine language was the only way to tell these machines to perform the operations. There was great difficulty to program these computers and more when there were some malfunctions. First Generation computers used Vacuum tubes and magnetic drums (for data storage).


  •  Vacuum tubes were the only electronic component available during those days.
  •  Vacuum tube technology made possible to make electronic digital computers.
  •  These computers could calculate data in millisecond.
  •  Disadvantages
  •  The computers were very large in size.
  •  They consumed a large amount of energy.
  •  They heated very soon due to thousands of vacuum tubes.
  •  They were not very reliable.
  •  Air conditioning was required.
  •  Constant maintenance was required.
  •  Non-portable.
  •  Costly commercial production.
  •  Limited commercial use.
  •  Very slow speed.
  •  Limited programming capabilities.
  •  Used machine language only.
  •  Used magnetic drums which provide very less data storage.
  •  Used punch cards for input.
  •  Not versatile and very faulty.

Second Generation Computers (1956-1963)


Second generation: 1947 – 1962 – This generation of computers used transistors instead of vacuum tubes which were more reliable. In 1951 the first computer for commercial use was introduced to the public; the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC 1). In 1953 the International Business Machine (IBM) 650 and 700 series computers made their mark in the computer world. During this generation of computers over 100 computer programming languages were developed, computers had memory and operating systems. Storage media such as tape and disk were in use also were printers for output.

In 1906 the American physicist Lee De Forest invented vacuum tube triode. It was the first three terminal device and enabled amplification and switching of electrical signals. Though it helped to push the development of technology a great deal, it had its own problems. The metal that emitted electrons in the vacuum tubes burned out. It occupied lot of space, consumed much power and produced heat.

In 1947 the three Americanphysicists – John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain – at Bell Telephone Laboratories invented transistors. They received the 1956 Nobel Prize jointly for this awesome invention.Transistors proved to be a much better alternative to the vacuum tubes. They were much smaller, produce low heat and were very reliable. This made it possible to develop computers smaller, efficient and more reliable.


  •  Smaller in size as compared to the first generation computers.
  •  The 2nd generation Computers were more reliable
  •  Used less energy and were not heated.
  •  Wider commercial use
  •  Better portability as compared to the first generation computers.
  •  Better speed and could calculate data in microseconds
  •  Used faster peripherals like tape drives, magnetic disks, printer etc.
  •  Used Assembly language instead of Machine language.
  •  Accuracy improved.
  •  Disadvantages
  •  Cooling system was required
  •  Constant maintenance was required
  •  Commercial production was difficult
  •  Only used for specific purposes
  •  Costly and not versatile
  •  Puch cards were used for input.

Features of Second Generation Computers:

  •  Second generation computers used transistors as their main electronic component.
  •  These computers were much smaller, reliable and more powerful
  •  Apart from machine language, assembly language were developed and used in this generation
  •  Some high level languages like COBOL & FORTRAN were introduced towards the end of second generation
  •  The computers of second generation used ‘Stored Program Concept’
  •  Printers, tape storage, disk storage, memory were started from second generation of computers
  •  Processing speed improved to microseconds
Third Generation Computers (1964-1971)
Third Generation Computers
Third Generation Computers-http://aroushtechbd.net

Third generation: 1963 – present – The invention of integrated circuit brought us the third generation of computers. With this invention computers became smaller, more powerful more reliable and they are able to run many different programs at the same time. In1980 Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-Dos) was born and in 1981 IBM introduced the personal computer (PC) for home and office use. Three years later Apple gave us the Macintosh computer with its icon driven interface and the 90s gave us Windows operating system

Although transistors were great deal of improvement over the vacuum tubes, they generated heat and damaged the sensitive areas of the computer. The Integrated Circuit(IC) was invented in 1958 by Jack Kilby. It combined electronic components onto a small silicon disc, made from quartz. More advancement made possible the fittings of even more components on a small chip or a semi conductor. Also in third generation computers, the operating systems allowed the machines to run many different applications. These applications were monitored and coordinated by the computer’s memory.


  •  Smaller in size as compared to previous generations.
  •  More reliable.
  •  Used less energy
  •  Produced less heat as compared to the previous two generations of computers.
  •  Better speed and could calculate data in nanoseconds.
  •  Used fan for heat discharge to prevent damage.
  •  Maintenance cost was low because hardware failure is reare.
  •  Totally general purpose
  •  Could be used for high-level languages.
  •  Good storage
  •  Versatile to an extent
  •  Less expensive
  • Better accuracy
  •  Commercial production increased.
  •  Used mouse and keyboard for input.


  • Air conditioning was required.
  •  Highly sophisticated technology required for the manufacturing of IC chips.
  • Characteristics of Third Generation Computers
  •  Third Generation Computers were based on integrated circuit (IC) technology.
  •  Third Generation Computers were able to reduce computational time from microseconds to nanoseconds
  •  Third Generation Computers utilized operating systems to centrally control and made it possible for multiple programs to run on a computer
  •  Users interacted with computers through keyboards and mouse rather than traditional punched cards and printers.
  •  Third Generation Computers devices consumed less power and generated less heat. In some cases, air conditioning was still required.
  •  The size of Third Generation Computers was smaller as compared to previous computers
  •  Since hardware of the Third Generation Computers rarely failed, the maintenance cost was quite low.
  •  Extensive use of high-level language became possible in Third Generation Computers.
  •  Manual assembling of individual components was not required for Third Generation Computers, so it reduced the large requirement of labor & cost. However, for the manufacture of IC chips, highly sophisticated technologies were required
  •  Commercial production became easier and cheaper.
Fourth Generation computer (1971-Present):
Fourth Generation computers
Fourth Generation computers-http://aroushtechbd.net

Fourth Generation computers are the modern day computers. The Size started to go down with the improvement in the integrated circuits. Very Large Scale (VLSI) and Ultra Large scale (ULSI) ensured that millions of components could be fit into a small chip. It reduced the size and price of the computers at the same time increasing power, efficiency and reliability. “The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, took the integrated circuit one step further by locating all the components of a computer (central processing unit, memory, and input and output controls) on a minuscule chip.”

The period of fourth generation was 1971-1980. The computers of fourth generation used Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits. VLSI circuits having about 5000 transistors and other circuit elements and their associated circuits on a single chip made it possible to have microcomputers of fourth generation. Fourth generation computers became more powerful, compact, reliable, and affordable. As a result, it gave rise to personal computer (PC) revolution. In this generation time sharing, real time, networks, distributed operating system were used. All the high-level languages like C, C++, DBASE etc., were used in this generation


  •  More powerful and reliable than previous generations.
  •  Small in size
  •  Fast processing power with less power consumption
  •  Fan for heat discharging and thus to keep cold.
  •  No air conditioning required.
  •  Totally general purpose
  •  Commercial production
  •  Less need of repair.
  •  Cheapest among all generations
  •  All types of High level languages can be used in this type of computers


The latest technology is required for manufacturing of Microprocessors

 Fifth Generation Computers (Present & Beyond)

Fifth Generation Computers
Fifth Generation Computers-http://aroushtechbd.net

Scientists are working hard on the 5th generation computers with quite a few breakthroughs. It is based on the technique of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Computers can understand spoken words & imitate human reasoning. Can respond to its surroundings using different types of sensors. Scientists are constantly working to increase the processing power of computers. They are trying to create a computer with real IQ with the help of advanced programming and technologies. IBM Watson computeris one example that outsmarts Harvard University Students. The advancement in modern technologies will revolutionize the computer in future.

Fifth generation computers are in developmental stage which is based on the artificial intelligence. The goal of the fifth generation is to develop the device which could respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization. Quantum computation and molecular and nanotechnology will be used in this technology. So we can say that the fifth generation computers will have the power of human intelligence.


  • The fifth generation computers will use super large scale integrated chips.
  •  They will have artificial intelligence.
  •  They will be able to recognize image and graphs.
  •  Fifth generation computer aims to be able to solve highly complex problem including decision making, logical reasoning.
  •  They will be able to use more than one CPU for faster processing speed.
  •  Fifth generation computers are intended to work with natural language.

6th generation computer:

 What will be the characteristics of 6th generation computers?

 6th generation computers
6th generation computers-http://aroushtechbd.net

Another interesting thing to watch will be quantum computing. However, quantum computing only really holds a ton of promise for some traditionally hard problems, such as breaking crypto, factoring large numbers, or difficult optimization problems. As such, I think it’s premature to expect that everyone will be using quantum computers in the next 5, 10, or even 20 years; more likely, they will become a novelty – like supercomputers – where a few researchers figure out how to exploit their computational powers. 5-10 years after that, we could see quantum technology start appearing in consumer devices, but I imagine for most day to day usage of computers, quantum is unlikely to make much of a difference.

 Points to Remember:

  •  An international conference in1962 divided the development of computers into five distinct generations based on main electronic component used on them.
  •  The computers that used vacuum tubes are first generation computers and they range the date 1946 to 1958.
  •  Vacuum tube diode was first developed by the English physicist Sir John Ambrose Fleming.
  •  Vacuum tube triode was invented in 1906 by the American engineer Lee De Forest.

ØFirst generation computers were very large, consumed a lot of power producing excessive heat. They had low level of accuracy and reliability.

  •  Machine language was used to program first generation computers.
  •  Because thousands of vacuum tubes were used, they produced a lot of heat. Cooling facility was required in any room where computers were installed. Vacuum tubes were burnt out frequently and maintenance cost was very high. This was the main drawback of first generation of computers.

ØSecond generation computers used transistors as their main electronic component. Transistorwas much smaller, produced almost no heat and thus, they had a tremendousimpact in development of computers and other electronic devices.

  •  Second generation computers were developed in 1959 to 1964
  •  Transistors were invented in 1947 by trio Bell Lab scientists – Walter Brattain, John Bardeen, and William Bradford Shockley.
  •  Assembly language was used to program second generation computers.
  •  Magnetic tapes and disks were used as main secondary storage media.

ØThird generation computers were developed in 1965 to 1974 that used integrated circuits (ICs) also called microchip as main electronic component.

  • Transistors were invented by two scientists independently in 1958 – Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation.
  •  Monitors and Keyboards were introduced in third generation for input and output of data.
  •  High level languages were use to program in third generation.

Ø Fourth generation computers are developed during 1975 to 1990 which used LSI and VLSI microprocessors.

  •  Invention of microprocessors is the most startling development in fourth generation.
  •  Personal Computers (PCs) were introduced and are very popular. GUI was developed in fourth generation.
  •  The first microprocessor called Intel 4004 was developed by American Intel Corporation in 1971.

ØThe fifth generation computer project conducted jointly by several Japanese computer manufacturers under the sponsorship of the Japanese government, emphasized artificial intelligence.

  •  Artificial intelligence is the branch of computer science concerned with designing intelligent computer system that possesses reasoning, learning and thinking capabilities resembling those of a human being.
  •  Fifth generation computers will use super conductor technology – Gallium Arsenide chips or Biochips.
  •  Quantum computation and nanotechnology will radically change the face of computers in years to come.

Share This Post

Post Comment