Computer Awareness Tit-Bits

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Introduction

What is computer ?

A computer is a machine that can be able to program and designed to perform arithmetic and logical operations automatically according to the input given by the user and gives the desired output after processing.

A computer system consists of two major elements: hardware and software. Hardware represents the physical and tangible components of a computer, i.e. the components that can be seen and touched. 
Software is a set of instructions for a computer to perform specific operations. You need both hardware and software for a computer system to work.
 

History Of Computer

The evolution of computer to the current state is defined in terms of the generations of computer. Each generation of computer is designed based on a new technological development, resulting in better, cheaper and smaller computers that are more powerful, faster and efficient than their predecessors. 
Currently, there are five generations of computer -


First Generation (1940 to 1956):


The first generation of computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory. The input to the computer was through punched cards and paper tapes. The output was displayed as printouts.
The first generation computers used a large number of vacuum tubes and thus generated a lot of heat. They consumed a great deal of electricity and were expensive to operate. The machines were prone to frequent malfunctioning and required constant maintenance. Since first generation computers used machine language, they were difficult to program.

 Points about first generation 

  • Vacuum tube technology
  • Unreliable
  • Supported machine language only
  • Very costly
  • Generated a lot of heat
  • Slow input and output devices
  • Huge size
  • Need of AC
  • Non-portable
  • Consumed a lot of electricity

Examples:  ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC, IBM-701, IBM-650

Second Generation (1956 to 1963): 

In Second Generation, vacuum tubes are replaced  with Transistors . Transistors allowed computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, energy efficient and reliable. The second generation computers used magnetic core technology for primary memory. They used magnetic tapes and magnetic disks for secondary storage. The input was still through punched cards and the output using printouts. They used the concept of a stored program, where instructions were stored in the memory of computer.

Points about Second Generation           

•    Use of transistors
•    Reliable in comparison to first generation computers
•    Smaller size as compared to first generation computers
•    Generated less heat as compared to first generation computers
•    Consumed less electricity as compared to first generation computers
•    Faster than first generation computers
•    Still very costly
•    AC required
•    Supported machine and assembly languages

             

Examples:  IBM 1620, IBM 7094, CDC 1604, CDC 3600, UNIVAC 1108

Third Generation (1964 to 1971):

The third generation computers used the Integrated Circuit (IC) chips. In an IC chip, multiple transistors are placed on a silicon chip. Silicon is a type of semiconductor. The use of IC chip increased the speed and the efficiency of computer, manifold. The keyboard and monitor were used to interact with the third generation computer, instead of the punched card and printouts.

•    Use of transistors
•    Reliable in comparison to first generation computers
•    Smaller size as compared to first generation computers
•    Generated less heat as compared to first generation computers
•    Consumed less electricity as compared to first generation computers
•    Faster than first generation computers
•    Still very costly
•    AC required
•    Supported machine and assembly languages
Examples:  IBM 1620, IBM 7094, CDC 1604, CDC 3600, UNIVAC 1108

Points about Third Generation

•    IC used
•    More reliable in comparison to previous two generations
•    Smaller size
•    Generated less heat
•    Faster
•    Lesser maintenance
•    Costly
•    AC required
•    Consumed lesser electricity
•    Supported high-level language
Examples:  IBM-360 series, Honeywell-6000 series, PDP (Personal Data Processor), IBM-370/168, TDC-316

Fourth Generation (1971 to present): 
They use the Large Scale Integration (LSI) and the Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) technology. Thousands of transistors are integrated on a small silicon chip using LSI technology. VLSI allows hundreds of thousands of components to be integrated in a small chip. This era is marked by the development of microprocessor. Microprocessor is a chip containing millions of transistors and components, and, designed using LSI and VLSI technology. 

This generation of computers gave rise to Personal Computer (PC). Semiconductor memory replaced the earlier magnetic core memory, resulting in fast random access to memory. Secondary storage device like magnetic disks became smaller in physical size and larger in capacity. The linking of computers is another key development of this era. The computers were linked to form networks that led to the emergence of the Internet. This generation also saw the development of pointing devices like mouse, and handheld devices. 
Points about fourth generation -
•    VLSI technology used
•    Very cheap
•    Portable and reliable
•    Use of PCs
•    Very small size
•    Pipeline processing
•    No AC required
•    Concept of internet was introduced
•    Great developments in the fields of networks
•    Computers became easily available
Examples:  DEC 10, STAR 1000, PDP 11, CRAY-1(Super Computer), CRAY-X-MP(Super             Computer)

Fifth Generation (Present and Next): 
The goal of fifth generation computing is to develop computers that are capable of learning and self-organization. The fifth generation computers use Super Large Scale Integrated (SLSI) chips that are able to store millions of components on a single chip. These computers have large memory requirements. This generation of computers uses parallel processing that allows several instructions to be executed in parallel, instead of serial execution. Parallel processing results in faster processing speed.The Intel dualcore microprocessor uses parallel processing. The fifth generation computers are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). They try to simulate the human way of thinking and reasoning. Artificial Intelligence includes areas like Expert System (ES), Natural Language Processing (NLP), speech recognition, voice recognition, robotics, etc.

 

 

 

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