History & Generations of Computer

History of Computer

History and Generations of Computer

Computers are generally developed for performing arithmetic/mathematical calculations. Several inventions are executed for making computers that we are using today. As a result of these inventions and research mankind has got a device for fast and accurate calculations. Some main steps for evolution of computer are given below:

1. Abacus

Many years ago, in China this machine was developed and used for mathematical calculations. Abacus was the first non electric computer which was developed and was also known as the counting frame, it was made like a rack of sliding beads or pebbles. It was used to execute arithmetic processes. Abacus helps its users to computer numbers by adding them, subtracting them, multiplying them and by dividing them.

2. Difference Engine

In 1820, Charles Babbage developed this machine and was used to do some mathematical calculations. it was the first automatic mechanical calculator which was designed to tabulate polynomial functions.Unfortunately this machine was not able to produce accurate results some times.

3. Analytical Engine

It was the combination of Difference Engine and Analytical Engine and was developed by Charles Babbage in 1830. With the help of analyzer they ensured that the output produced by difference engine is accurate. The punched cards were used to input the programs and data into machine. A piece of stiff paper that was used and contain digital data to be represented by the absence and presence of holes in position which is predefined.

Generations of Computer

4. Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine

This machine was developed by Herman Hollerith in 1891 with a storage capacity. It was the combination of Difference Engine, Analytical Engine and Storage capacity. This tabulating machine was an electromechanical machine which was designed to help in summarizing data and information stored in punched cards.

5. Mark-1

With the collaboration of IBM (International Business Machine) Howard Aiken developed Mark-1 computer in 1937. It became the first fully automated calculating machine called “Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator”.


ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrated Analyzer Computer) was the first general purpose computer developed by Prosper & John in 1945. It was also called the Giant Brain at that time because of its speed which was 1000 times faster than the other electomechanical machines. The design of ENIAC was given by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert of the University of Pennsylvania in and was completed in 1945.

Generations of Computer

On the basis of historical advancement and electronic components, computers are classified into five different generations. These are:

First Generations of Computer (1942-1955)

In the first generation of computers vacuum tubes are used as the basic component. These type of computers are very lage in size. ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC, IBM-650, IBM-701 computers are the main example of first generation of computer which are based on binary coded concept (i.e. language of 0 and 1) Maintenance cost of these computers was very high.

Second Generation of Computer (1955-1964)

As compare d to the first generation computers the second generation computers are 10 times faster and much smaller in size. In these types of computers transistors are used instead of vacuum tube. Second generation computers take less computing time as compared with the first generation computers For example PDP-1, IBM 7094, Honeywell 400, CDC 3600, UNIVAC 1108 and CDC 1604.

Third Generation of Computer (1964-1975)

The speed of third generation computer was higher as compared to the first and second generation computers because integrated Circuits (IC’s) were used instead of vacuum tube and transistors. Also the maintenance cost was lesser than the previous generation computers. these computers consumes less power and generate less heat if compared with first and second generation computers and generation were easier for commercial use.CRAY-1, PDP-8, ICL 2900, IBM 360, PDP-11, IBM 370 are the example of third generation computer.

Fourth Generation of Computers (1975-1989)

These computers were much smaller than previous computers and based on microprocessor technology. The cost of these computers was very low and they were used as general purpose machine in development of applications. These computers are very fast and because of accurate results every time, they become much reliable than other computers. Because of its low production and maintenance cost, common people can easily afford them. Fourth generation computer was named as IBM PC, DEC 10, IBM 4341, STAR 1000, PUP 11.

Fifth Generation of Computer (1989-Present)

In this era of evolution the fifth generation computers are still in the process of development. Artificial intelligence based computers are already developed so far. Many types of robots and machines are developed by computer science with artificial intelligence which can work and behave like human being. The fifth generation computers are developed with high capability and large capacity of memory. People can perform multiple tasks simultaneously. The technology of fifth generation computers includes Quantum computation, Nano technology, Artificial intelligence and parallel processing. Desktop, NoteBook, Laptop, UltraBook and Chromebook and many others are the main examples of fifth generation computers.

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