History & Generations Of Computers – Differences, Advantages and Disadvantages

In the earlier time, nothing was there to solve the calculation-related problems of humans. Hence, a technique had been introduced among peoples to solve their arithmetic-related problems and now, this technique is known by the name of the computer. It is a machine that is used to perform the mathematical operations in less time as compared to the calculations done by humans manually. The calculator we used is also one of the types of computers. Now, we are going to discuss the computers of the past technology used by humans for calculations, which gets evaluate with time. They were usually made of wooden in the past time. Today we will lean the advantages, disadvantages and differences that came due to each generations.

history of computer generations of computers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th evolution

History of Computers

In the starting point, many devices have been used in the processing of data such as Abacus, Napier Bones, Difference Engine, Analytical Engine, etc. They all were different from each other in functioning and structure, etc. So, let’s talk about the past of computers.

Ancient Time/Past of Computers


Abacus was the first calculation device in the world. It was designed to solve specific calculations like addition, subtraction. It was also specialized to calculate the big numbers. They have been made up of a frame-set with rods on which beads or you can say, balls are moved to calculate the numbers. Subtraction, the addition could be easily done by putting the beads properly. It was also used to teach mathematics to blind peoples and still very familiar devices in china. It is not sure that who had invented the Abacus, some annalists believe that it was invented by the ancient Chinese and others believe that it was invented by the Babylonians or the Egyptians.

Napier bones

It was designed to perform multiplication and it was invented by John Napier (1550-1617). This device allowed the user to perform mathematical calculations like multiplication, division, also calculate square roots & cube roots.


It was the first calculator, developed by the French mathematician-philosopher Blaise Pascal in 1642. This machine was only specified to do only addition, subtraction. This machine was highly costly, also called the Arithmetic Machine. This machine was consists of dials: input dials and output dials. Input dials were located at the top of the calculator and output dials were at the bottom of the device.

Leibnitz’s Calculator/Stepped Reckoner

Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz has discovered a digital mechanical calculator and it was called by the name of Stepped Reckoner. It was invented in 1671, he was a German mathematician. This was the first calculating machine that could carry out all four arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and also check out square roots by series of stepped addition and cylinders were used in this machine.

Difference Engine

It was invented by Charles Babbage in 1822. It was a mechanical device used to calculate tables of numbers or tabulate table of mathematics & statistics. This machine was large and used to perform accurate calculations.

Analytical Engine

Analytical means deeply analysis. It was the first general-purpose-computer in the world. It was originated by the British mathematician Charles Babbage in 1834. This type of computer had been innovated to perform various types of tasks like you can play games on it, calculate, & can send an email by using it, also can solve any query or problem. The computers had been designed before the Analytical engine was created to perform only one particular type of function, that was calculation and was unable to perform any other task. So, this device was designed to carry out calculations as well as many other functions also. It was a great invention, all today’s computers are based on this device. That’s why Charles Babbage was rewarded by the tag to him “Father of the Computer”.

Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine

This machine was created by Herman Hollerith in 1890 U.S., he was an American mathematician who has used the punch cards for the first time to record the data and tabulating machine to count them. It was the first automatic data processing system. This modernization became the origin of a company that emerge into International Business Machines (IBM).

Mark-I Computer (1937-44)

IBM introduced an automatic sequence controlled calculator in 1937, it was the first General-purpose electromagnetic computer developed by Professor Howard Aiken. This machine was used to do basic arithmetic calculations like addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and it was specialized to execute long computations automatically.

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (1939-42)

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer was the first electronic digital machine to use binary digits to store numbers and it includes two electric drums as the components of memory. It was established by Dr. John Atanasoff who used vacuum tubes and capacitors for internal storage. Numbers of columns were arranged in the drums and there were 30 columns in a drum. Each column has 50 bits & entire storage of this drum was 3000 bits.

The ENIAC (1943-46)

The ENIAC stands for:

  • Electronic
  • Numerical
  • Integrated
  • And/Analyzer
  • Computer

ENIAC was designed by Prof. J.Presper Eckert and Prof. John Mauchly in 1943. It was the first general-purpose electronic computer designed to reprogram to solve any calculation-related problem. Its design was quite complex & very big.

ENIAC includes the following:

  • Numbers of vacuum tubes (approx. 17468).
  • Very less storage capacity.
  • 10,000 capacitors.
  • 70,000 resistors.

The EDVAC (1946-52)

The EDVAC stands for:

  • Electronic
  • Discrete
  • Variable
  • Automatic
  • Computer

It was a first-generation electronic computer and it was also developed by Prof. J.Presper & Prof. John Mauchly. The aim to design this computer is to develop such a device that can calculate as well as store data. So, it was the first computer that could store data & instructions.

It includes the following:

  • Magnetic tapes were used to store data.
  • Data & instructions were stored in the form of binary form (0 &1).
  • Control unit was used with an oscilloscope.
  • Arithmetic operations were performed.
  • Timer was included to monitor the work on the computer.
  • Automatic checking to analyze that the result has been executed is accurate or not.

The EDSAC (1947-49)

The full-form of EDSAC is:

  • Electronic
  • Delay
  • Storage
  • Automatic
  • Calculator

It was also a first-generation computer that was designed to launch a more advanced technology that can perform arithmetic operations at very high speed (in nanoseconds).

Manchester Mark I (1948)

The Manchester Mark I was invented in 1948, it was the world’s first stored-program electronic computer. It was also called Manchester Automatic Digital Machine (MADM).

The UNIVAC I (1951)

The UNIVAC I stands for Universal Automatic Computer I. It was invented by J.Presper Eckert & John Mauchly. This technology was designed for the commercial purposes, So, it was the first commercial computer build in the United States.

Evolution/Generations Of Computer

The term generation refers to the production or creation of something. So, here the generations of computers mean the extension or you can say the growth of the computer industry and every generation represents new technology. The technology used in computers were changed over time, it became more & more advanced, powerful, fast, efficient. Now, we are going to discuss the evolution of the computer system and the difference between its various hardware & software technologies.

The computers have progressed from the long years to the present day, the computer we used today with new technologies are all connected to the various stages/generations of computers. There are five generations of computers and they are categorized according to the period. The different stages of computers are:

(1) First-Generation Of Computers

  • The interval of the first generation was 1942-1955.
  • This generation involved the vacuum tubes as the main electric element for manipulating/processing the data.

Examples Of 1st Generation Computers:

  • ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator).
  • EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer).
  • EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer).
  • UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer).

Advantages Of 1st Generation Computers are:

  • The language used by these computers was machine language (language involves only two digits 0, 1).
  • Punched cards, paper tape, magnetic tape input, and output devices were used in them.
  • They could carry out calculations in milliseconds.
  • Vacuum tubes were used that were the only electronic constituent accessible those days.

Disadvantages Of 1st Generation Computers are:

  • These computers were quite expensive and could not be affordable by small organizations.
  • They caused a lot of electricity. So, they required large AC’s to keep them cool.
  • Sometimes they could generate inaccurate results or they do not show reliability all the time.
  • They were quite large in size & space of a room was required to set-up them.
  • They execute slow input & output functions.

(2) Second-Generation Of Computers

  • The period of the second generation was 1955-1964.
  • The computers of this generation used transistors and replaced the heavy vacuum tubes. ( one transistor is equaled to hundred vacuum tubes)
  • Cost, as well as the size of the computers, got reduced.
  • They produce less heat as compared to the vacuum tubes.
  • They were more reliable as compared to the computers of the first generation.

Examples of 2nd Generation Computers:

  • Honeywell 400
  • IBM 1920
  • IBM 1401
  • CDC 1604
  • CDC 3600

Advantages of 2nd Generation Computers are:

  • Assembly language was used to create programs, COBOL & FORTRAN was also evolved & then, used to write programs.
  • Cost as well as the size of the computers got reduced.
  • They produce less heat as compared to the vacuum tubes.
  • They were more reliable as compared to the first generation of computers.
  • They could have great speed & done calculations in microseconds.
  • Less space was required to set up them as compared to the first generation computers.

Disadvantages Of 2nd Generation Computers are:

  • Continuous maintenance was required.
  • Used for particular functions.
  • A cooling system was always required due to the amount of heat produced by them.

(3) Third-Generation Of Computers

  • The computers that were developed from 1964-1975 were called third-generation computers.
  • Neither vacuum tubes & nor transistors were used in this generation. Both were replaced by the Integrated Circuits (IC’s)
  • A single IC contains the number of transistors and it was originated by Robert Noyce & Jack Kibly in 1958-1959.

Examples Of 3rd Generation computers are:

  • PDP-8
  • PDP-11
  • ICL 2900
  • IBM 360
  • IBM 370

Advantages Of 3rd Generation Computers are:

  • Integrated circuits made computers cheaper, smaller as compared to the second generation computers.
  • They used less electricity.
  • RAM was established as the main memory in this generation.
  • They were more reliable as differentiated from other generations.
  • It has involved the big storage capacity.
  • IC had also enhanced the performance of computers belonged to this generation.
  • IC has constructed computers faster and used nanoseconds for computing data.
  • Mouse, keyboard were used as a substitute for punch cards.

Disadvantages of 3rd Generation Computers:

  • Air conditioning was needed.
  • Hard to maintain the Integrated circuits.

(4) Fourth-Generation Of Computers

  • 1975-1989 was the period of fourth-generation computers.
  • This technology used a microprocessor instead of integrated circuits.
  • A microprocessor is consists of small silicon chips on which thousands of circuits are placed.

Examples of 4th Generation Computers:

  • IBM 4341
  • DEC 10
  • STAR 1000
  • PUP 11

Advantages Of 4th Generation Computers are:

  • They became more powerful.
  • The idea of the internet was introduced.
  • This generation set off more reliable and portable computers.
  • They were cheap as compared to the other generation computers.
  • High-level languages were used such as C, C++, DBase, etc.
  • The microcomputer was introduced in this generation.
  • A minor amount of heat was produced.
  • They became easily accessible and required less maintenance.

Disadvantages Of 4th Generation Computers are:

  • Microprocessor design is very compound.
  • AC is required in the case of IC’s circuits.

Fifth-Generation Of Computers

  • The computers developed in 1989 up to the present are called Fifth-Generation Computers.
  • This generation’s computers used Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • This generation aims to produce a technology that can meet the needs of the users or you can say that to introduce user-friendly technology.
  • The most advanced computers have been introduced in this technology to satisfy their users.
  • Computers are made in different sizes so, that different people can use them for different purposes or according to their requirements.

Examples Of 5th Generation Computers are:

  • Desktop
  • Laptop
  • Notebook
  • Ultrabook
  • Chrome book

Advantages OF 5th Generation Computers are:

  • ULSI (ultra large scale integration) technology was used in this generation.
  • A microprocessor is used in this technology, it has ten million electronic components (means the size of the circuit decreases while the capacity of processing the data increases.
  • ULSI technology results in parallel processing hardware.
  • High-level languages are used like C, C++, JAVA, Net, etc.
  • Development of natural language processing.
  • Very powerful and compact computers at cheaper rates are available in this generation.

Disadvantages Of 5th Generation Computers are:

  • This technology may lead to uninteresting, boring, dry human brains.
  • It requires low-level languages.



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