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History of Computer System

Updated on January 2, 2014
A desktop Computer
A desktop Computer | Source
Mainframe Computer
Mainframe Computer | Source
Laptop Computer depicting a continuous improvement in computing
Laptop Computer depicting a continuous improvement in computing | Source


The history of computer system dated back to the 17th century. Though the term computer was not used then. The first mathematical or mechanical device that was used for computation of data was found among the Chinese before the Birth of Christ called Abacus. This was beads stung on wires used for arithmetic calculation. Abacus is still been used in certain circles even to this day in China.

However the first time a device capable of performing arithmetic computation was designed around 1840 by Charles Babbage. Though he called it “analytical engine”,the concept that underlies its design underscores what saw to the emergence of what is called computer today.

These components were: A storage system for data, an arithmetic unit, a control unit, an input device and an output device. These same factors defined the use of computer today. Babbage envisioned that this will solved a variety of problems which was then achieved as enumerated by what the machine could perform.

A succinct history of Computer systems can be categorised into generations as follows:

First generation Computers

These set of computers made their first appearance between 1940 and 1958. They were very large in size perhaps the size of a room and very expensive to use and maintain. The main memory of these computers was a vacuum tube. Punch cards and magnetic tapes were used as the source of input and for the storage of data. The output was via the print out. They were general purpose computers and they can only perform one function at a time. Examples of some first generations computers are:

Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)

Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer (EDSAC)

Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC)

Second Generation Computers

The second generation history of computer system is traceable between 1959 and 1966. The memory of these computers uses transistors and magnetic tape to store data. Transistors provided faster operations and generate lesser heat. Early version of high level programming language such as COBOL and FORTRAN were developed at this time.

Example of computer in this generation was the IBM 1401 developed in 1959. This promoted commercialised computer data processing to a higher degree for the first time. And this off course made IBM 1401 very successful business computer.

Third Generation Computers

The third generation set of computers' history dated back to between 1964 and 1970. The memories of these sets of computers were made from silicon chips transformed into tiny miniaturised Integrated circuits.

This provided vast internal storage and operated in billionth of a second. Secondary storage magnetic disks were introduced. This solved the problem associated with magnetic tapes in terms of slowness and sequential access to data. The integrated circuits (ICs) made it possible for the computer to run more than one program at the same time. The IBM 360 series is an example of a very successful third generation computer.

Fourth Generation Computers

The fourth generation computers made their appearance between 1971 and 1990. These were the first set of computers that use large scale Integrated circuits (LSIC). The memory of the computers logic circuits that perform logical operations were constituted by these large scale Integrated circuits.

This was the era that birth the invention of the micro processor which provided enormous processing speed. Example of this type of processor was the Intel-4004 which performs about 1 million multiplications per second. The Intel- 4004 was manufactured by the Intel Corporation in USA and it carried 2250 on a tiny silicon chip. Micro processor when integrated with the Input and Output system of a computer saw the era of the emergence of Micro computers.

Fifth Generation Computers

The fifth generation history of computer system is an era of improvement on micro computers which in itself was seen as one of the greatest breakthrough in technology in the 20th century. This started from 1991 into the future. This is popularly referred to as advancement in artificial intelligence. This process will make computer imitate human intelligence. This includes speech activated computers that have the ability to respond to natural language.

The world of Computer is in the state of flux and it will continue into the future. Computer users and sellers most necessarily seek for latest updates to remain relevant and make the utmost of these emerging breakthroughs in technology and most especially in “artificial intelligence” as it is popularly called.

Do you have any latest findings with respect to the history of computer system? Feel free to give your contribution relative to how it has impact Man's ways of life.

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      satish 3 years ago

      i like the best

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      footfetishfelix 16 months ago

      ty fam

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