History Of Computers

The Four Generations of Computers

  • First Generation (1940-1956) Vacuum Tubes

  • The first computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory, and were often enormous, taking up entire rooms.

  • Second Generation (1956-1963) Transistors

  • Transistors were miniaturized and placed on silicon chips, called semiconductors, which drastically increased the speed and efficiency of computers.
  • Third Generation (1964-1971) Integrated Circuits

  • The development of the integrated circuit was the hallmark of the third generation of computers.

  • Fourth Generation (1971-Present) Microprocessors

  • The microprocessor 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.