Five Generations Of Computers


The history of the five generations of computers begins in 1940 with vacuum tube circuitry and goes all the way up to Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.

There were five major technological changes made in computing, which constitute the five generations:

· Vacuum Tubes

· Transistors

· Integrated Circuits

· Microprocessors

· Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Vacuum Tubes (1940-1956)

The first computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums as memories, which were often immense rooms. These systems were very expensive to operate because they consumed so much electricity and generated a lot of heat. This heat was usually the cause malfunctions. The UNIVAC and ENIAC computers were revolutionary in their day, but they are not the only examples.

The first generation of computers relied on machine language; the lowest-level programming language understood by computers. They could only solve one problem at a time. Operators would take days or weeks to set up new problems because input was based around punched cards and paper tape output displayed as printouts.

Transistors (1956-1963)

In the second generation of computers, transistors replaced vacuum tubes and became a much more common component. They were invented at Bell Labs in 1947 but did not see widespread use until the late 1950s. The

transistor made a quantum leap in the miniaturization of computers, making them smaller and faster.

Integrated Circuits (1964-1971)

The development of the integrated circuit was a huge leap forward for computer technology. Semiconductors were miniaturized and placed on silicon chips, called integrated circuits (IC). which drastically increased speed and efficiency in computers.

The third generation of computers allowed the masses to access their own computational power for the first time. Their screens and keyboards made them user-friendly, but they also had an operating system with central programming that monitored memory usage.

Microprocessors (1971-PRESENT)

The microprocessor is the brain of a computer. In 1971, Intel developed what would eventually become one thousand integrated circuits onto one tiny silicon chip for its 4004 chip. It was named after this early breakthrough in computing technology.

The first microprocessor was introduced by IBM back in 1981, but it wasn’t until 1984 when Apple released their Macintosh product line with the same feature, which made computing accessible for everyone.

Fourth-generation computers developed graphical user interfaces (GUI), mice, and handheld devices. The power these small computers had allowed them to work together in an Internet-like fashion. They preceded today’s technology world, where information is shared across borders.

Artificial Intelligence (PRESENT AND BEYOND)

Fifth-generation computers, which are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and parallel processing, will soon be a reality. Voice recognition applications that use these technologies today offer some insight into how fifth-generation AI-enhanced computers may work in the future.


The development and use of AI-empowered computers is still very new but some say we are in the fifth generation as AI continues to develop. One possible contender for a future sixth generation of computer technology could be with quantum computing technology. But this has only recently become more developed enough to produce viable results so far.

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