the five generation of computers and thier history

before jumping onto the generation of computers, you must first understand what does generation means in computer science.

what is generation of computers?

as the computers got better and better we started writing down its changes. so that we can know how much computers have evolved from the beginning.

it is a data record which tells you how computers got smaller, cheaper, faster, and easier to use.

in computer science, generation refers to changes or upgrades in computers, that were made at that time. these changes include software and hardware as well.

there aren’t any specific name for that computer generation, we just call them by their generation. like first-generation computers, second-generation computers, and so on…

so how many generations of computers are there?

there is a total of 5 generations of the computer. 

  1. first-generation computers (1940-1956)
  2. second-generation computers (1956-1963)
  3. third-generation computers (1964-1971)
  4. fourth generation computers (1971-1980)
  5. fifth-generation computers (1980-present)
generation of computer chart images-

generation of computer chart images-

first-generation computers (1940-1956): 

first generation of computer image chart

the first generation of computer image

from the year 1940 to 1956 is called first-generation, the first-generation computer used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory. and those computers were humongous in size. almost a room size.

first generation of computer image vaccum tube

vacuum tube of first-generation computers (source: computerhope )

in the first generation batch processing operating system was used. and Punched cards, Paper tape, Magnetic tape Input & Output device were used. 

even though making computers with vacuum tubes was a big thing in computers, there were many disadvantages of first-generation computers. 

advantages and disadvantages of first-generation computers:


  1. first, generation computers were based on vacuum tubes.
  2. machine language was used for programming.


  1. the OS of first-gen computers was very slow.
  2. they were large in size.
  3. they generated too much heat.
  4. difficult to program and use
  5. The first-gen computers were unreliable.

computers of this generation:

  • IBM-701
  • IBM-650

second-generation computers (1956-1963):

second generation of computer image chart

the second generation of computer image

From 1959 to 1965 seconds, the generation of computers was developed. in 2nd generation, to reduce the size and cost of previous-generation computers, transistors were used. that was cheaper, consume less power, more reliable, and faster.

second generation of computer image transistors

image of transistors used in second generation of computer

in 2nd gen, high-level programming languages like FORTRAN, COBOL were used. The computers used batch processing and multiprogramming operating system.

advantages and disadvantages of second-generation computers:


  1. Use of transistors
  2. Reliable compared to first-generation computers
  3. Smaller compared to first-generation computers
  4. Generated less heat compared to first-generation computers
  5. Consumed less electricity compared to first-generation computers
  6. Faster than first-generation computers
  7. Supported machine and assembly languages


  1. still very costly
  2. AC required

Some computers of this generation were :

  • IBM 1620
  • IBM 7094
  • CDC 1604
  • CDC 3600
  • UNIVAC 1108

Third-generation computers (1964-1971):

third generation of computer chart

the third generation of computer image

from the year 1964-1971 is called first-generation, During this period third generation computers were developed using Integrated Circuits (ICs) in place of transistors.

third generation of computer chart integrated circuit

an integrated circuit used in the third generation of computers

an integrated circuit (IC) is a set of many transistors, resistors, and capacitors along with the associated circuitry. it was developed by “Robert Noyce”.

In this generation, Remote processing, Time-sharing, Real-time, Multi-programming Operating System were used. High-level language (FORTRAN-II TO IV, COBOL, PASCAL PL/1, BASIC, ALGOL-68, etc.) were used during this generation.

advantages and disadvantages of second-generation computers:


  1. IC used
  2. More reliable in comparison to the previous two generations
  3. Smaller size
  4. Generated less heat
  5. Faster
  6. Lesser maintenance
  7. Consumed lesser electricity
  8. Supported high-level language


  1. AC required
  2. Costly

Some computers of this generation were:

  • IBM-360 series
  • Honeywell-6000 series
  • PDP (Personal Data Processor)
  • IBM-370/168
  • TDC-316

fourth generation computers (1971-1980):

fourth generation of computer chart

fourth generation of computer

fourth generation of computer chart Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits.

Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits. in fourth gen computers

During the period 1971-1980, the fourth generation of computers was developed. instead of integrated circuits computers of fourth-generation used Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits.


VLSI was an advanced version of integrated circuits.

VLSI circuits having about 5000 transistors and other circuit elements with their associated circuits on a single chip made it possible to have microcomputers of the fourth generation.

fourth-gen computers was a lot better than the previous generation computers and as a result, it gave rise to the Personal Computer (PC) revolution.

In this generation, time-sharing, real-time networks, distributed operating system were used. All the high-level languages like C, C++, DBASE, etc., were used in this generation.

advantages of second-generation computers:


  1. VLSI technology used
  2. Very cheap
  3. Portable and reliable
  4. Use of PCs
  5. Very small size
  6. Pipeline processing
  7. No AC required
  8. Concept of the internet was introduced
  9. Great developments in the fields of networks
  10. Computers became easily available

Some computers of this generation were:

  1. DEC 10
  2. STAR 1000
  3. PDP 11
  4. CRAY-1(Super Computer)
  5. CRAY-X-MP(Super Computer)

fifth-generation computers (1980-present):

fifth generation of computer chart

a reference of the fifth generation computer

The period of fifth-generation is 1980-till date. they are still in a development state. In the fifth generation, VLSI technology became ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology, resulting in the production of microprocessor chips having ten million electronic components.

ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology

ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology

This generation is based on parallel processing hardware and AI (Artificial Intelligence) software. AI is an emerging branch in computer science, which interprets the means and methods of making computers think like human beings. All the high-level languages like C and C++, Java, .Net, Python, etc., are used in this generation.

AI includes −

  1. Robotics
  2. Neural Networks
  3. Game Playing
  4. Development of expert systems to make decisions in real-life situations
  5. Natural language understanding and generation

The main features of fifth-generation are:

  1. ULSI technology
  2. Development of true artificial intelligence
  3. Development of Natural language processing
  4. Advancement in Parallel Processing
  5. Advancement in Superconductor technology
  6. More user-friendly interfaces with multimedia features
  7. Availability of very powerful and compact computers at cheaper rates

Some computer types of this generation are −

  1. Desktop
  2. Laptop
  3. NoteBook
  4. UltraBook
  5. Chromebook


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