The generations of computers
The First Genration
The first computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory, and were often enormous, taking up entire rooms. They were very expensive to operate and in addition to using a great deal of electricity, generated a lot of heat, which was often the cause of malfunctions.
The Second Genration
Transistors replaced vacuum tubes and ushered in the second generation of computers. The transistor was invented in 1947 but was not used a lot until the 1950. The transistor was far better to the vacuum tube, allowing computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, used less energy and more reliable than their first-generation predecessors.
The Third Genration
The development of the integrated circuit was the hallmark of the third generation of computers. Transistors were miniaturized and placed on silicion chips, called semiconducters, which drastically increased the speed and efficiency of computers.
The Fourth Genration
The microprocessors brought the fourth generation of computers, as thousands of integrated circuits were built onto a single silicon chip. What in the first generation filled an entire room could now fit in the palm of the hand. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the components of the computer—from the central processing unit and memory to input/output controls—on a single chip.
The Fifth Genration
Fifth generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence, are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition, that are being used today. The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping to make artificial intelligence a reality.