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Question: Write in brief the evolution of computer.

Posted by: Pooja K. on 18.06.2022

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  • The history of computer starts with the simple tool all we have heard  about,  "The Abacus".
  • Let us learn how and when did it lead to the invention of Computers.
  • The initial computers did not have any monitor and memory. The abacus - adding machine is a wooden rack holding horizontal wires with beads strung on them. It was invented in Babylon around 2000 years ago.
  •  In 1822, Charles Babbage, a professor of mathematics, designed an automatic mechanical machine called difference engine, which is a type of counting machine. He also introduced another machine called Analytical Engine which could store information on punched cards.  Babbage invented all necessary parts that modern computer use, but it wasn't until 1940 that modern computers were introduced. Charles Babbage is known as the father of the computer.

Generation of computers:

   Since their invention, Computers have evolved and advanced quickly. Commonly we can group the developments in computers into five generations. Change in technology is referred to be as 'Generation'. All the generations are explained in the following points.    First Generation (1940-1956):

  • First-generation computers, such as UNIVAC - I (Universal Automatic Computer - I) and ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator Analyzer and Computer), were huge.
  • They took huge space because they used vacuum tubes for circuits and magnetic drums for memory storage.
  • They consumed a large amount of electricity and generated a lot of heat.
  • They were very expensive.
  • They used machine language.


Second Generation (1956-1963):

  • Second-generation computers used two types of devices namely transistors and magnetic core.
  • Transistors replaced vacuum tubes in circuits, and the magnetic core replaced magnetic drum for memory storage.
  • Second-generation computers outwitted first-generation computers due to transistors, making the computers smaller in size, faster (microseconds), cheaper, energy-efficient and more reliable.
  • In second-generation computers, transistors replaced the vacuum tubes but still generated a lot of heat that caused damage to the computers but comparatively lesser than the first-generation.
  • Instead of a Machine language, Assembly language was used.
  • A translator is used to convert the assembly language into machine language. This translator is called as an assembler.
  • Examples - IBM - 1920,IBM - 1401, etc.,


Third Generation (1964-1971): IBM - 360

  • The third-generation computers were the improved version of second-generation computers, where the transistors were replaced by Integrated Circuits (IC).
  • Integrated circuits were silicon chips where multiple transistors were placed. This reduced the size of the computers massively.
  • They were cheaper than the previous generation.
  • This generation of computers used parallel processing to improve processing efficiency.
  • These computers could calculate the data in nanoseconds.
  • For Programming, high-level languages were used.
  • These computers were general-purpose computers and used for commercial purpose also.
  • Operating system and other application software were introduced and used.
  • Examples - IBM - 360series, CDC - 1700, etc.,

Fourth Generation (1971-Present):

  • Fourth-generation computers were introduced after third-generation computers, which generally used microprocessor.
  • A Microprocessor generally consists of thousands of integrated circuits built on a single chip known as a silicon chip.
  • Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) technology used. Billion of circuits per cubic foot.
  • Computation speed - Picoseconds
  • Smaller in size, faster and more reliable
  • They use less electricity and generating less heat.
  • Examples - Apple, Cray - 1, etc.,



Fifth Generation (Present):

  • After the invention of fourth-generation computers, the fifth-generation computers were introduced.
  • The fifth-generation computers or modern-day computers are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and are still in their developmental phase. Japan invented the FGCS (Fifth Generation Computer System) in 1982.
  • This generation computer is based on microelectronic technologies with high computing speeds and parallel processing.
  • Example - IBM notebooks, PARAM - 10000, etc.,

A computer is a high-speed electronic device that accepts data and instructions from the user, then processes the data accordingly to produce information as output. It is capable of performing arithmetic and logical operations on data. It also stores and executes set of instructions. Data is entered in the computer through some input devices like keyboard, mouse, etc. It is then processed by C.P.U. and the result is displayed through an output device like a monitor.

The invention of the computer has affected many areas of our life. In its early time, it was a very costly and rare machine, limited to scientific laboratories and research centres. It was difficult to work on (UPBoardSolutions.com) and they were very bulky. Slowly, the technology improved and the size of the computer reduced as well as its working became easy

Computers have completely altered the structure of a business, a large volume of accounting and record-keeping, data can be manipulated, organized, stored, retrieved and used for scientific purposes.

Nowadays, a computer is used in homes, offices, shops and almost every-where. It is used to do simple as well as the most difficult calculations. Every business, no matter big or small, is based on computers. Similarly, an organization without computer is hard to find. Computer has changed the world.

Evolution of Computer: The first mechanical calculator developed by Blaise Pascal acted as a model for modem computers. Since then many machines have been developed which have to lead the way to modem microcomputers. A series of a scientific breakthrough by many scientists have contributed to produce this electronic machine called the computer. 1. Abacus: Movable beads on a wooden frame constituted the first (UPBoardSolutions.com) known calculating device. The abacus was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans

2. Pascaline: The gear-driven machine capable of addition, subtraction and multiplication, considered as a first mechanical calculator, was invented by French mathematician Blaise Pascal in the year 1642.

3. Jacquard’s Loom: In 1801, a Frenchman named Joseph Jacquard perfected a loom that was controlled by the holes in cardboard punched cards. This machine gave an idea about storage.

4. Difference Engine: In 1822, Charles Babbage invented his first machine (Difference Engine). He designed it to calculate logarithm tables. A series of levers were used to enter the data and a device similar to the typewriter was used to print the output.

5. Analytical Engine: In 1833, it was developed by Charles Babbage to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication and division through the use of the stored program. First programmer lady Ada Augusta Byron Lovelace helped him in its developing.

6. Atanasoff-Berry Computer: This electronic machine was developed by Dr John Atanasoff in 1939 for certain mathematical equations. It was called Atanasoff-Berry Computer or ABC, after its inventor’s name and his assistant Clifford Berry. It used 45 vacuum tubes for internal logic and capacitors for storage.

7. Mark 1: In 1944, Dr. Howard Aiken developed a machine called an (UPBoardSolutions.com) Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator which was later named as Mark-I. It was the first electromechanical computer.

8. ENIAC: First fully electronic computer named ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was developed by Prosper Eckert and J.W. Mauchly in 1945. It used high-speed vacuum tube switching devices.

9. EDVAC: In 1946, Dr John Von Neumann used the principle of storing in 0 and 1 (Binary Digits) in place of earlier technologies and developed EDVAC with the new concept of ‘stored program’. ED VAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer).

10. UNIVAC: Universal Automatic Computer was developed by Eckert and Mauchly in the year 1951. It was the first commercial computer used by Electronic Corporation. Its memory was MDL (Mercury Delay Line).

11. PDP Series: The computer of this series was developed by DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation).

  • PDP-1 → 1961 → 8 bit → 4 KB
  • PDP-8 → 1965 → 16 bit → 16 KB
  • PDP-11 → 1970 → 16 bit → 32 KB

12. Micro Computers: Intel is the No. 1 company in the microprocessor. The microprocessors developed by this company were the best for microcomputers, few of them are as follows:

  • 8080 → 1974 → 8 bits
  • 8085 → 1978 → 8 bits
  • 8086 → 1980 → 16 bits
  • 80286 → 1982 → 32 bits
  • 80386 → 1985 → 32 bits
  • 80486 → 1986 → 32 bits


13. Pentium Series: After 80486, Intel developed Pentium processors which are used almost in every computer nowadays.

  • Pentium → 1993
  • Pentium I → 1995
  • Pentium II → 1997
  • Pentium Mobile → 1998
  • Pentium III → 1999
  • Pentium IV → 2000
  • Pentium Centrino → 2004


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