History of Computer/ Generation of Computer

computer history

History of Computer

Historians divide the history of modern computer in to generation beginning with the introduction of the “UNIVACI”. The first commercially viable computer in 1951 but the quest for a mechanical servant one that could free people from the more boring aspects of thinking is centuries old.

I want to divide the history of computer in to three ages.history of computer

1. Dark Ages

In this age all computing devices were manual mechanical in nature, and this age introduce the following devise.

  • Abacus

One of the simplest and earliest to aid arithmetic is the abacus, devise by the Chinese. The abacus is still used in education to demonstrate the principles of counting and arithmetic, and in business for speeding calculations.

There is more than one type of abacus but basically it is a frame with several wires across it on each of which are strong a number of beads.

  • Pascaline

The first fully mechanical device was made by “Blaise Pascal” in year 1642 to help his father a tax collector to keep accounts. The devise was named “Pascaline” which used cogged wheels to add and subtract up to eight digit numbers. Its design was tailored to handle data in the form of the French monetary system.

  • Jacquad’s Loom

The first example of robot controlled machine was “Jacquard’s Loom in year 1801. It was invented by “Joseph Marie Jacquard”. This machine was capable of weaving complicated patterns which depended on the position of holes in punched cards that were supplied to the machine.

Babbage’s difference engine and the Analytical engine

Charls Babbage (1791 – 1871) was probably the person who contributed more ideas than anyone else to the development of the computer. He was paid large sum of money by the British Government to develop his difference engine. A machine designed to calculate tables by the method of difference.

The difference engine was composed of gears and wheels.The machine that Babbage designed therefore had an input device for reading instructions and data, an output device for printing numbers, a memory for remembering numbers and an arithmetic unit for actually performing the calculation. Three are the essential ingredients of a modern computers.

In 1991 London’s science museum spent $600,000 to build a working model of the difference engine using Babbage’s original plans. The result stands 6 feet high, 10 feet long, contains 4000 parts and weight 3 tons. So we know “Charls Babbage is the father of the Computer.history of computer

2. Middle Ages

In this age all computing devices were electro mechanical in nature that is they worked mechanically with the help of electricity. This age introduced the following devices.

  • Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine

Dr. Hollerith of the bureau searched for a better method. As he watched a train conductor punch the tickets of orders with their destination he was reminded of Jacquard’s method of using punched cards to dictate intricate weaving patterns inspired, he developed a series of machines that compiled the 1890 census information. His device was named Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine.

  • ABC

The ABC stand for Atanasoff Berry Computer in 1939. Dr. John V. Atanasoff a professor at Lowa State University and graduate student. Clifford E. Berry assembled a prototype of the ABC to cut the time physics students spent making complicated calculations. A working model was finished in year 1942.

Atanasoff’s decision to use an electronic medium with vacuum tubes, the base-2 numbering system and memory and logic circuit set the direction for the modern computer. Atanasoff is credited with the invention of the automatic electronic digital computer.

3. Modern Ages

In this age electronic computer started, the first electronic computer introduced in this age was ENIAC and since then there is no end to the invention in computer field.

  • Marks

IBM’s stand for international business machine entry into computers was sparked by young Harvard professor of mathematics, Howard Aiken in year 1936 after reading lady lovelace’s notes Aiken begin to think that a modern equivalent of the analytical engine could be constructed.

So the first electro-mechanical computer the MARK 1 was developed by him in year 1944 under the sponsorship of IBM. A monostrous 51 feets long and 8 feet high, the Mark 1 was essentially a serial collection of electro-mechanical calculators and had many similarities to Babbage’s analytical machine. The Mark 1 was a significant improvement but IBM’s management still felt electro-mechanical computers would never replace punched card equipment.


ENIAC meaning  is Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. Dr. john W. Mauchly collaborated with J Presper Eckert Jr. at the university of pennyslvania to devlop a machine that would compute trajectory tables for the US Army. The end product, the fully operational electronic computer was completed in 1946 and named the ENIAC.

Beginning of Computer Age

First full operational electronic computer was introduce to the world in 1946, but the historian assumes the starting of computer age from 1951, when first commercial computer UNIVAC was introduce. The remarkable thing about the computer age is that so much has happened in so much short time.

The first three computer generations are pinned to three technological development.

  • Vacuum Tube
  • Transistor
  • Integrated Circuit

Generation of Computer

First Generation (1951 – 1958)

Vacuum Tube – The first generation of computers characterized by the use of Vacuum tubes in generally thought to have begun on June 14, 1951 with the introduction of the first commercially viable electronic digital computer. The Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC 1) developed by Mauchly and Eckert for the Remington Rand Corporation, was installed in the US Bureau of the Census in year 1951.

In the first generation Vacuum Tubes, Electronic Tubes about the size of light bulbs were used as the internal computer components, however because thousands of such tubes were required. They generated a great deal of heat causing many problems in temperature regulation and climate control.

After UNIVAC, IBM made a commitment to develop and market computers IBM’s first entry into the commercial computer marked was the IBM 701 in year 1953. It was IBM 650 introduce in 1954.

To supplement primary storage. First generation computers stored data on punched cards in 1957 magnetic tape was introduced as a faster more compact method of storing data.

Second Generation (1959 – 1969)

Transistor – A small device that transferred electric singles across a resistor was developed in this generation. It revolutionized electronics in general and computers in particular. Transistor were much smaller than vacuum tubes and they had numerous other advantage they needed no warm up time consumed less energy and were faster and more reliable.

Development of high level language were also observed in this generation FORTAN (1954), Cobol (1959) and ALGOL (1960) were the few important high level languages used for programming.

So we can say that, the invention of the transistor signaled the start of the second generation of computers. Theses transistorized computers were more powerful, more reliable, less expensive and cooler to operate than their vacuum tube predecessors. In 1963 is generally considered the first successful minicomputer.

Third Generation (1965 – 1970)

Integrated Circuit – One of the most abundant elements in the earth’s crust is silicon a non-metallic substances found in common beach sand as well as in particularly all rocks and clay. In India it is found abundantly at Keral beach.

It is principally used as a semiconducting material for making silicon chip, the integrated circuit. This element is important in the study of computers is etched on a chip of silicon. It was in 1965 at Santa Clara country in USA, when the production of silicon chip was started.

An integrated circuit is a complete electronic circuit on a small chip of silicon. The clip may be less than 1/8 inch square, and contains thousands or millions of electronic components. In 1965 integrated circuits began to replace transistor in computer. The resulting machines were called third generation computers.computer history

Fourth Generation (1971)

Micro Processor – Through the 1970’s Computers gained dramatically in speed, reliability and storage capacity but entry into fourth generation was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Although most computer vendors would classify their computers as fourth generation. Most people pinpoint 1971 as the generations beginning. That was the year when large scale integration of circuitry was introduced. The fourth generation was in fact an extension of third generation technology.

Fifth Generation

Now days the time is of the fifth generation. The powerful intelligent computers has been build. Now evolved to several research field related to computer intelligence, artificial intelligence, expert system, speech recognition, parallel processing, quantum calculation, natural language and much more advance technology are used.

Here you learned the history of computer.



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