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This paper was researched by my college students; J. Hemmings and L. Foster.
Generations of the Computers:

Computers have evolved over years since the first electronic computer was developed over sixty five years ago. The very first computers are a rarity today and could only be found in museums or collectors homes.

Computers were first developed due to the interrelation of mathematics with physics (first of all with physics of a hard body, semiconductors, and electronics) and modern technology.

The speed of generations change for a short history of development is characteristic of computer engineering, first of all for four generations have already changed and now there are works to develop a fifth generation of computers.

The features that characterize the  generations of computers are:
> first of all its element base (what elements it is mainly constructed)
> speed
> memory capacity
> ways of control and processing of  information.

The First Generation of Computers: 1945 - 1959 (Vacuum Tubes Years)

In 1946 two Americans, Presper Eckert, and John Mauchly built the ENIAC electronic computer which used vacuum tubes instead of the mechanical switches of the Mark I. The ENIAC led to other vacuum tube type computers like the EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable  Automatic Computer) and the UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer).

The vacuum tube was an extremely important step in the advancement of computers. Vacuum tubes were invented the same time the light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison and worked very similar to light bulbs. These two properties made the ENIAC computer possible.

Structure and Material

The element base of the machines of this generation was electronic lamps - diodes and triodes. The first generation computers were huge, slow, expensive, and often undependable.

These computers used thousands of vacuum tubes, which took up a lot of space and gave off a great deal of heat just like light bulbs do. They emitted much heat that they had to be cooled by gigantic air conditioners. However, even with these huge coolers, vacuum  tubes  still overheated  regularly.

Main Feature and Application

The vacuum tube purpose was to act like an amplifier and a switch. Without any moving parts, vacuum tubes could take very weak signals and make the signal stronger (amplify it). Vacuum tubes could also stop and start the flow of electricity instantly (switch).

The machines were intended for solution of the rather simple scientific and technical tasks. They were of significant size, consumed much power, and had a low reliability of operation and weak software. In the machines of a first generation the main logical principles of construction of the electronic computer were Gonu von Neimanis ideas concerning operations of the computer by the program, input into the memory, and input data (numbers) were realized.

This period marks the beginning of the commercial application of electronic computers for data processing. In computers of this time the electro vacuum lamps and peripheral memory on a magnetic drum were used. They were entangled by wires and had access time lxlO -3 c. The industrial systems and compilers have not appeared yet.

The end of this period marked the production of devices with the memory on magnetic cores. The reliability of the computers of this generation was the lowest.

Speed and Memory Capacity

Their  speed  did  not  exceed  2 -3 thousands  operations  per  second,  the  capacity  of the  main memory -2K or 2048 machine words (1K=1024) in length 48 binary digits.

In 1958 the machine M-20 with the memory of 4K and the speed about 20 thousands          operations per second appeared.

Cost and Availability

Individual cost not available

Examples:          SECM,  BESM-1,  M-1,  M-2,  M-3,  "Strela",  "Minsk-I",  "Ural-I",  "Ural  -  2", "Ural - 3", M-20, "Setun", BESM-2, "Razdan".

The Second Generation of Computers: 1960 - 1964 (The Transistor Era)

        The transistor computer did not last as long as  the  vacuum tube computer  lasted,  but  it  was  no  less  important  in  the  advancement  of computer  technology.  In  1947 three  scientists,  John  Bardeen,  William Shockley,  and  Walter  Brattain  working  at  AT&T's  Bell  Labs  invented what  would  replace  the  vacuum  tube  forever.  This  invention  was  the transistor  which  functions  like  a vacuum  tube  in that  it  can be used to relay and switch electronic signals.

Structure and Material
The element base of the machines of this generation was semi conducting devices.  This period was characterized by wide application of transistors and advanced circuits of memory on cores.

These transistors were made of solid material, some of which is silicon, an abundant element
(second only to oxygen) found in beach sand and glass.  Therefore they were very cheap to
produce. Transistors were found to conduct electricity  faster and better than vacuum  tubes. They were also much smaller and gave off virtually no heat compared to vacuum tubes.

The transistor replaced the vacuum tubes and was faster, more reliable, smaller, and much cheaper to build. One transistor replaced the equivalent of 40 vacuum tubes. Their use marked a new beginning for the computer. Without this invention, space travel in the 1960's would not have been possible.

Main Feature and Application

These machines were designed as solution for the various labor-consuming scientific and technical tasks, and also for control of technological processes in production. . They were mostly specialized machines for solution of the economic tasks, for control of production process also for systems of transmission of the information.

The appearance of semi conducting units in the electronic circuits essential increased  the capacity of the main memory, reliability and speed of the computers.

The size, weight and power consumption have decreased.

These computers were successfully applied in the areas connected to processing of sets of data and problem solving, usually requiring the execution of routine operations for factories, institutions and banks. These computers worked by principle of package data processing. These computers also expanded the field of use of electronic computer facilities, considerably mostly at the expense of the development of the software.

The value of access time achieved by theses computers was lxl0"6 S, though the most part of units of the computer was still connected by wires.

Some examples are:

•          The M-40, -SO : for systems of anti-missile defense
•          Ural-11, -14, -16 Computer: for general purpose oriented to solution of the non­ production and economical tasks
•          Minsk -2, -12, -14: for solution of engineering, scientific and designing tasks of mathematical and logical character
•          Minsk - 22 -22 : for solution of the scientific, technical and economical tasks;
•          Computer - 3 -4, -6: general computers oriented to solution of complex tasks of science and engineering
•          M-20, -220, -222: general computers oriented to solution of the complex mathematical tasks
•          WORLD- I: the small electronic digital computer intended for solution of a wide range of the engineering-designing mathematical tasks

•          "NAIRI": general computer, intended for solution of a wide range of engineering, scientific and technical, and also some types of economical and accounting-statistical tasks
•          Ruta-110: a general uses mini computer

Speed and Memory Capacity

The BESM-4, M-220, M-222 had the speed of about 20 -30 thousands  operations per  second and the main memory capacity of 8K, 16K and 32K.

The Computer- 6 having speed about a mips and the main memory from 32K up to 128K (in the majority of machines there are especially selected two segments of memory 32K each) is particularly distinguished.

Cost and Availability

Individual cost not available

The Third Generation of Computers: 1964 - 1970 (Integrated Circuits)

The integrated circuit, or as it is sometimes referred to as semiconductor chip, packs a huge number of transistors onto a single wafer of silicon. Robert Noyce of Fairchild Corporation and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments independently discovered the amazing attributes of integrated circuits. Placing such large numbers of transistors on a single chip vastly increased the power of a single computer and lowered its cost considerably.

Since the invention of integrated circuits, the number of transistors that can be placed on a single chip has doubled every two years, shrinking both the size and cost of computers even further and further enhancing its power. Most electronic devices today use some form of integrated circuits placed on printed circuit boards. These are thin pieces of bakelite or fiberglass that have electrical connections etched onto them, sometimes called a motherboard.

Structure and Material

The element base of these computers was small integrated circuits (SIC).  The integrated circuits are a single chip with a number of transistors that have been placed  on it. They are thin pieces  of bakelite  or  fiberglass  that  have  electrical  connections  etched  onto sometimes  called  a motherboard.

Main Feature and Application

The machines intended for a wide use in various areas of science and engineering (accounts, production management, sliding objects control etc.). Due to the integrated circuits it was possible, essentially to  improve technical-operating performances these computers; the third generation computers. For example          the machines of the third generation computers have greater size of the main memory,  increased  speed has increased,  more reliability  has raised,  less  power consumption and occupied  less space.

These  computers were relatively  cheap  in  comparison to their  predecessors  due to the use  of the integrated circuits  along  with  the  usual  electrical  connections with  the help  of 'wires which were built in a chip. This allowed for a receive access time of up to 2x10 •9 s

The further          development Management Information System in the USSR in the 70’s gave to the universal computers of the third generation. This resulted in manufacturing of EU compatible computers  and with foreign computers  such as IBM-360  developed  in the USA.

This period also ushered in the development of user-friendly workstations. The further progress
in the development of computer facilities was connected while the development of semi conducting  memory, liquid crystal screens and electronic memory.  At the end of this period was a commercial break in the field of microelectronic technology.

This era also saw the development of multiprocessor  computers and desktop mini computers with  integrated chips IVI-180.                                                           

This era also  saw the development  of real time computer  systems.

The minicomputers have begun to be applied to solution of the engineering tasks connected designing. The first experiments which have shown efficiency of computers use as tools of designing  are carried out.

The application of distributed computing systems became a basis for  decentralizing  problem solving connected  with  data processing  of factories,  in banks and institutions.

The size of these machines dropped to the size of small file cabinets.

Speed and Memory Capacity

These third generation computers could carry out instructions in billionths of a second.

Cost and Availability

Individual cost not available

The third generation computers include the "Dnieper-2", EU - 1010, EU - 1020, EU - 1030, EU - 1040, EU - 1050, EU - 1060 and some their intermediate modifications - EU - 1021, WORLD - 2, "NAIRI-2" and a number of others.

The Fourth Generation of Computers: 1970 - 1982 (The Microprocessor)

Ted Hoff, employed by Intel (Robert Noyce's new company) invented a chip the size of a pencil eraser that could do all the computing and logic work of a computer. The microprocessor was made to be used in calculators, not computers. It led, however, to the invention of personal computers, or microcomputers.

In the1970's people began buying computer for  personal use.  One of the earliest personal  computers was the Altair  8800 computer kit.  In  1975
you  could  purchase  this  kit  and  put  it  together  to          
make  your  own  personal  computer. In 1977 the
Apple II  was sold to the  public and in 1981 IBM  entered the PC (personal  computer) market.          

Today we have all  heard  of Intel  and  its Pentium® Processors  and now we know  how it  all got started.  The computers of the next  generation will  have millions upon  millions  of transistors  on one  chip  and  will  perform  over  a  billion  calculations  in  a  single  second.  There  is  no  end  in sight for the computer movement

Structure and Material

The fourth generation of computer technology is based on the microprocessor and is characterized by both the jump to monolithic integrated circuits (millions of transistors put onto one integrated circuit chip) and the invention of the microprocessor (a single chip that could do all the processing of a full-scale computer).

Microprocessors employ Large Scale Integration (LSI) and Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) techniques to pack thousands or millions of transistors on a single chip.

The Intel 4004 was the first processor to be built on a single silicon chip. It contained 2,300 transistors. Built in 1971, it marked the beginning of a generation of computers whose lineage would stretch to the current day.

Main Feature and Application

By putting millions of transistors onto one single chip more calculation and faster speeds could be reached by computers, because electricity travels about a foot in a billionth of a second, the smaller the distance the greater the speed of computers.

Speed  and Memory Capacity

The multiprocessor computer complex "Elbrus" also refers to as the computer of the fourth generation. "Elbrus - IKB" had the speed up to 5,5 mln. operations with a floating point per second, and the capacity of the main memory up to 64 Mb.

The "Elbrus - 2" had the productivity up to 120 mln. operations per second, the capacity of the main memory up to 144 Mb or 16 MWords (a word - 72 bits), maximum capacity of the channels of input-output - 120 Mb I sec.

A typical home computer, with microprocessor switches turning on and off at two to four million cycles per second and running a program written in a fast computer language like C or FORTH, can perform a few thousand arithmetic operations per second.

Cost and Availability

The individual cost not available

To this generation it is possible to refer the computer of EU: EU - 1015, -1025, -1035, -1045, - 1055, -1065 -1036, -1046, -1066, CM-1420, -1600, -1700, all personal computers (" Electronics
MC 0501 ", "Electronics - 85", "ISKRA - 226", EU - 1840, -1841, -1842 etc.), and also other types and modifications.

The Fifth Generation of Computers: 1982 - Present (Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems)

Structure and Material

Main Feature and Application

Artificial Intelligence:          These  computers  would  have  a sophisticated  AI program would eliminate the need for users to write programs, since they could communicate their orders to the computer via ordinary English.

Parallel Processors: One answer to the problem of complex programming is to  build the computer with more than one processor, then break up the program into pieces and assign each piece to a separate processor.  With many processors  working  on a problem  simultaneously,  or

"in parallel," the program in theory executes much faster. This technology is also called parallel "distributed array processing."

Speed and Memory

The Cray-2, today's most powerful computer The Cray-2 handles over a billion arithmetic operations per second. The Cray-1, which costs about $10 million, performs between 160 and 200 million arithmetic operations per second. To put it  another way,  a program  that takes twelve minutes to run on an Apple will be executed on a Cray-1 in about three one-hundredths (0.03) of a second, and the same program will run on a Cray-2 in about six-thousandths (0.006) of a second.

Some other Fifth Generation Computers and their Speeds:

}., Tom McWilliams' 16-processor S-1 computer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, running at about two billion arithmetic operations per second.
}., The Denelcor Company's mysterious HEP-2 computer, to be ready in 1986, capable of twelve billion operations per second.
>-'          Salvatore Stolfo's 1,023-processor machine at Columbia University.
}., David Elliot Shaw's computer, also at Columbia, being developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and projected to have 256,000 processors          by          1987, a million by 1990.

Cost and Availability

The Apple Lisa and Macintosh, the Sage II and the Fortune 32:16 are microcomputers that all have a processor known as the Motorola 68000, which cost $3,000 to $10,000 and the super minicomputer costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.


1.          http://inventors.about.com/library/blcoindex.htm
File: The History of Computers - Computer history Timeline

2.          http://www.blink:enlights.com/pc.shtml File: interesting facts

3.          http://www.stealthbid.com/home/homeaspx?PID=OBBEDBFGINJLLP

4.          http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/ Hardware_Software/2002/FiveGenerations.asp - 37k - 2(, Jan 2006

5.          http://www.softlord.com/comp

6.          http://www.bookrags. com/sciences/computerscience/ generations-computers-csci- 01.html

7.          http://www.crews. org/curriculum/ex/compsci/articles/ generations.htm

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