History of Computer : A Brief Timeline of Computer Development

The computer was created to tackle a severe number-crunching dilemma, not for pleasure or email. The United States population reached such proportions in 1880 that it took more than seven years to tabulate the results. To speed up tasks, the government installed punch-card-based computers that occupied entire rooms additionally. 

Moreover, in comparison to these early models, today’s smartphones have more computing power. The article illustrates how computers have evolved from their humble beginnings to today’s machines in a brief history of computing. So let’s begin from the beginning. 


A Brief History Of Computer

Are you aware that Alan Turing is known as the inventor of computer science? Yes, you might know about him if you want to move further with computer science. Moreover, computer science has a brief history from the earliest period to now. 

Let’s talk about the brief history of the computer which will help you to increase your knowledge.  In the following section, you will learn about the history of computing and computer science. 



Traditionally, the abacus is regarded as one of the earliest computers in the history of computer science. Approximately 4,000 years ago, Chinese astronomers devised the abacus. Additionally, it was made from wooden rods affixed with metal beads. Counting is accomplished by shifting the beads from one side to the other. 


Generations of Computers: The History Of Computer Science


Generations of computers refer to advancements in computer technology. As early as 1946, electronic circuits were developed to execute counting. Prior computing machines relied on gears and other mechanical components for counting.

Furthermore, each generation of circuits has become smaller and better than the previous generation. As computers grew in size and power, miniaturization helped increase their speed, memory, and management. Following are the five different generations of computers:


First Generation Computers

The first generation of computers (1946-1959) was slow, expensive, and massive. Vacuum tubes were employed as the essential components of the CPU and memory in these computers. These computers relied heavily on batch operating systems and punch cards. In this generation, a typical output/input method was magnetic tape and paper tape; first-generation computers included these. Vacuum tubes were employed as the core components of CPU and memory in these computers.

Some of the mentionable computers from this generation are following:

  • ENIAC ( Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer)
  • EDVAC ( Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer)
  • IBM-701
  • IBM-650
  • UNIVAC ( Universal Automatic Computer)


Second Generation Computers

The transistor computer period spanned the second generation (1959-1965). These computers employed transistors, which were inexpensive, compact, and consumed less power. This allowed transistor computers to outperform first-generation computers.

Furthermore, Second-generation computers used magnetic cores as primary memory. In contrast, magnetic discs and tapes were used as secondary storage.

Furthermore, some assembly language and programming languages like COBOL and FORTRAN and batch processing systems were used in these machines.

Some of the popular second-generation computers are following:

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


Third Generation Computers

In the third generation of computers, integrated circuits (ICs) replaced transistors. A single integrated circuit (IC) can contain many transistors, which increases the power of a computer while decreasing its cost. Computers also became more dependable, efficient, and compact. 

The operating systems for computers of this generation were remote processing, timesharing, and multiprogramming. This generation was also characterized by high-level programming languages like FORTRAN-II to IV, COBOL, PASCAL PL/1, and ALGOL-68. Bell Labs developers created UNIX in this generation as a means of solving compatibility problems. UNIX, written in C, was portable across platforms and soon became the preferred operating system for large corporations and government agencies. Because of the system’s slowness, it never really became famous for home users.

Among the most popular computers in history’s third-generation are the following:

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


Fourth Generation Computers

In the fourth generation (1971-1980) of computers, very large-scale integrated circuits (VLSI) were used, a chip containing millions of transistors and various circuit elements. Therefore, computers of this generation are compact, powerful, fast, and affordable due to these chips. Real-time and timesharing operating systems powered these generations of computers. During this generation, several programming languages were employed, including C, C++, DBASE. Alan Shugart and an IBM engineering team introduced the “floppy disk” in 1971, allowing information to be shared among computers. Steve Jobs launched the first computer of Apple with a single circuit board on April Fool’s Day.

The following are some examples of fourth-generation computers:

  • DEC 10
  • STAR 1000
  • PDP 11
  • CRAY-1(Supercomputer)
  • CRAY-X-MP(Supercomputer)


Fifth Generation Computers

In computers from the fifth generation (1980 on), VLSI was replaced with ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration). It enabled the manufacture of microprocessor chips containing ten million electrical components. As a result of parallel processing hardware and AI (Artificial Intelligence) software, this computer generation was highly efficient. During this generation of computer programs, C, C++, Java,.Net, and Python were used additionally. 

The following are some examples of fifth-generation computers:

  • Desktop
  • Laptop
  • NoteBook
  • UltraBook
  • Chromebook



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