In the previous post we covered three topics, introduction to computers, uses of computers, and characteristics of computers, in this post we
will also cover the history of computers three topics and this post is also grow
your knowledge of basic computer skills. For people who are beginners in the
realm of computers, this post will be very helpful.
We’ll discuss and cover the following topics. Visit “BasicComputer Course Lesson 2” on our YouTube Channel.
- History of computer
- Generation of computers
- Types of computer
History of computer
The first computers were people!
That is, electronic computers (and the earlier mechanical computers) were given
this name because they performed the work that had previously been assigned to
people. “Computer” was originally a job title, it was used to describe those
human beings whose job was to perform repetitive calculations. Imagine you
had a job where hour after hour, day after day, you were to do nothing but
compute multiplications. In these situations. Boredom would quickly set in,
leading to carelessness and mistakes. Even on your best days, you wouldn’t be
producing answers very fast. Therefore, inventors have been searching for
hundreds of years for a way to mechanize this task.
Here below we will tell you about
the history of computers which computers were used earlier. And which scientists
- John Napier
- Blaise Pascal
- Barron Gottfried
Wilhelm Von Leibniz
- Joseph Marie Jacquard
- Charles Xavier Thomas De Colmar
- Charles Babbage
- George Boole
- Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace
- Herman Hollerith
- Dr. John V. Atanasoff and Clifford E. Berry
The abacus was an early aid for
mathematical computations. Its only value is that it aids the memory of humans
for performing calculations.
A skilled abacus operator can work on addition
and subtraction problems at the speed of a person equipped with a hand
calculator. The abacus was used in Asia Minor (China) about 5000 years ago. The
abacus is still in use today. An abacus consists of rings that slide over rods.
In 1617 an eccentric (some say
mad) Scotsman named John Napier invented logarithms, which are a technology that
allows multiplication to be performed via addition.
The magic ingredient is the
logarithm of each operand, which was originally obtained from a printed table.
But Napier also invented an alternative to tables, where the logarithm values
were carved on ivory sticks which are now called Napier’s Bones.
In 1642 Blaise Pascal, at age of
19, invented the Pascaline as an aid for his father who was a tax collector.
Pascal built a gear-driven one-function calculator (it could only add) but
couldn’t sell many because of their exorbitant cost and because they really
weren’t that accurate (at that time it was not possible to fabricate gears with
the required precision). Up until the present age when car dashboards went
digital, the odometer portion of a car’s speedometer used the very same
mechanism as the Pascaline to increment the next wheel after each full
revolution of the prior wheel. Pascal was a child prodigy.
Barron Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz
Just a few years after Pascal,
the German Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz managed to improve the Pascaline as
four functions (Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
Leibniz was the first advocate use of the binary system which is
fundamental to the operation of modern computers. Leibniz is considered one of
the greatest philosophers but he died poor and alone.
Joseph Marie Jacquard
In 1801 a French silk weaver and
inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the jacquard loom. The Jacquard Loom is
a mechanical loom that has holes punched in the pasteboard, each row of which
corresponds to one row of the design.
Multiple rows of holes are punched on
each card and many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung
together in order.
Charles Xavier Thomas De
Charles Xavier Thomas De Colmar,
a Frenchman, invented the machine in 1820 that could perform the four basic
arithmetic functions. This machine was called an Arithmometer. An Arithmometer
was a mechanical calculator that could add and subtract directly.
It could also
perform long multiplication and division effectively by using a movable
accumulator for the result. It became the first commercially successful mechanical
calculator. Its study design gave it a strong reputation for reliability and
accuracy and made it a key player in the move from human computers to
calculating machines that took place during the second half of the 19th
Charles Babbage, was an English
mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and mechanical engineer who originated the
concept of the programmable computer.
He made a “Difference Engine” in 1833,
which was powered by steam to solve mathematical equations.
After ten years. In
1842, he made a general-purpose computer named “Analytical Engine”.
analytical engine could add, subtract, multiply and divide in automatic
sequence at 60 additions per second.
As the inventor of Boolean logic
which is the basis of modern digital computer logic, Boole is regarded as the founder of the field of computer science.
George Boole clarified the binary
system of algebra, which stated that any mathematical equation could be stated
simply as either true or false.
Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace
Lady Ada Augusta Lovelace was an
English writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical
general-purpose computer, the analytical engine.
Her notes on the engine
include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a
machine, as such she is often regarded as the world’s first computer
Herman Hollerith was a German-American statistician who developed a mechanical tabulator based on
punched cards to rapidly tabulate statistics from millions of pieces of data.
He was the founder of the company that became IBM.
Dr. John V. Atanasoff and
Clifford E. Berry
1n 1939, John V. Atanasoff, a
professor at Iowa State University, and this graduate student Clifford E, Berry
assembled a prototype of ABC (Atanasoff and Berry Computer) to save time for
A working model of ABC was finished in 1942. The key ideas
employed in the ABC included binary math and Boolean logic to solve up to 29
simultaneous linear equations. The ABC had no central processing unit (CPU) but was designed as an electronic device using vacuum tubes for digital
computation. It also used separate regenerative capacitor memory that operated
by a process still used today in DRAM memory.
Generations of Computers
Computers can be divided into
five generations depending upon the technologies used. These are the following:
- First Generation (1942-1955)
- Second Generation (1955-1964)
- Third Generation (1964-1975)
- Fourth Generation (1975- 1980)
- Fifth Generation (In process)
First Generation (1942-1955)
Each computer had a different
binary-coded program called machine language that told it how to operate. This
made the computer difficult to program and limited its versatility and speed.
The distinct features of first
generations computers were:
Vacuum Tubes: vacuum tubes were
used to control and amplify the electronic signals.
Operating instructions: There was
no concept of the operating system. Operating instructions were used to operate
computers for specific tasks.
Machine Language: To operate the
computer different binary coded programs were used.
Examples: ENIAC, EDVAC, EDSAC,
etc. belongs to first-generation computers.
First Generation Advantages
- The main advantages of first-generation computers are the followings:
- These computers were the fastest
of their time.
- They were programmed using
- Electronic digital computers
were introduced due to vacuum tube technology.
First Generation Disadvantages
The main disadvantages of first-generation computers are the followings:
- Very big in size
- Not reliable
- Consumed a large amount of energy
- Constant maintenance was required
- More heat was generated and air
conditioning was required
- More costly
- Very slow in speed (data
- It was difficult to write programs
for these generation computers because they used only machine language
- Limited commercial use
Second Generation (1955-1964)
The transistor technology was
used in second-generation computers. The electronic component transistor was
invented in 1948 at Bell Laboratories. The transistor is smaller in size and
more reliable than a vacuum tube. Therefore, transistor technology was used
in computers in place of vacuum tube technology. Second-generation computers
replaced machine language with Assembly language allowing abbreviated
programming codes to replace long difficult binary codes. More sophisticated
high-level languages such as COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) and
FORTRAN (Formula Translator) came into common use during this time.
Second Generation Advantages
The main advantages of second-generation computers as compared to first-generation computers are the followings:
- Low in cost
- Smaller in size
- Fast in speed
- Less heat generated more reliable
and accurate calculations
- Consume low power etc.
- Used for commercial purposes
- Assembly language was introduced.
This language is easy to write programs than machine language
Second Generation Disadvantages
The main disadvantages of this
generation of computers are the followings:
- Air conditioning required
- Commercial production was
difficult and these were very costly
- Constant or frequent maintenance
- Only used for special purpose
Third Generation (1964-1975)
The IC (Integrated Circuits)
technology was used in third-generation computers. In a small IC chip (5 mm
square size) a circuit is designed with a large number of electronic components
like transistors, capacitors, diodes, resistors, etc. Initially, an IC contained
only about ten to twenty components. Thus the IC technology was named Small
Scale Integration (SSI). The third generation was based on IC technology and
the computers were designed using this technology.
development included the use of an operating system that allowed machines to
run many different programs at once with a central program that monitored and
coordinated the computer’s memory.
Third Generation Advantages
The main advantages of the third
generation as compared to previous generations of computers are the followings:
- Smaller in size
- Production cost was low
- Very fast in computational power
- More reliable
- Low power consumption
- Maintenance cost was low because the failure rate of hardware was very low
- Magnetic disk, used for external
- More storage capacity
- Easily portable
- Easily to operate
- Upgraded easily
- Widely used for various
commercial applications all over the world
- Lower heat generated
- High-level languages were
- Many input/output devices were
introduced such as mouse and keyboard etc.
- The main disadvantages of third-generation computers are the followings:
- Air conditioning required
- Highly sophisticated technology is required for the manufacturer of chips
Fourth Generation (1975- 1980)
Microchip technology was
introduced in this generation of computers. LSI (Large Scale Integration) could
fit hundreds of components onto one chip. By the 1980’s VLSI (Very Large Scale
Integration) squeezed hundreds of thousands of components onto a chip. Ultra
Large Scale Integration (ULSI) increased that number into the millions. It
increased their power, efficiency, and reliability. Intel made a chip named 4004
in 1971 on which a central processing unit, memory, and input/output controls
IBM (International Business
Machine) introduced its personal computer for use in 1981. The number of
personal computers in use was 2 million in 1981 and increased to 5.5 million in
1982. Macintosh introduced an operating system that allowed users to move
screen icons instead of typing instructions.
As smaller computers became more
powerful, they could be linked together or networked to share memory space and software information and communicate with each other as opposed to a mainframe
or minicomputer. Computers were linked
together using direct wiring called a Local Area Network (LAN) or
telephone lines called the Internet.
Fourth Generation Advantages
The advantages of the fourth
generation as compared to previous generation computers are the followings:
- Smaller in size
- Production cost is very low
- Very reliable
- Hardware failure is negligible
- Easily portable because of their
- Totally general purpose
- Air conditioning is not
- Very high processing speed
- Very large internal and external
- Used advanced input & output
devices such as optical readers, laser printers, CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drives, etc.
Fourth Generation Disadvantages
- The main disadvantage of fourth-generation computers is the following:
- Highly sophisticated technology is required for the manufacturer of microprocessor chips
Fifth Generation (In process)
The main drawback of first to
fourth-generation computers is that the computers do have not own thinking
power. These are totally depending upon the instructions given by the users.
Fifth-generation computers are
supposed to be the ideal computers but do not exist. Scientists are
working to design such computers that will have the following features.
- Having their own thinking power
- Making decisions themselves
- Having capabilities of learning
- Having the capability of reasoning
- Having a large capacity of internal
- Having extra high processing
- Having capabilities of parallel
In these computers following
technologies will be used:
ULSIC (Ultra Large Scale
Integrated Circuits) technology
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
technology is also called the knowledge processor. AI means automatic programs
that let the machines think and decide for themselves. The programming languages
LISP (List Processor) and PROLOG (Programming with Logic) are used for
artificial intelligence. Scientist at ICOT in Japan uses PROLOG to
develop Artificial Intelligence software.
Type of Computers
On the basis of the principle of
construction, computers are divided into three types are followings:
- Analog Computers
- Digital Computers
- Hybrid Computers
An analog computer is a form of
computer that used the continuously changeable aspects of physical phenomena
such as electrical. Mechanical, or hydraulic quantities to model the problem
being solved. Mechanical analog computers were very important in gun fire
control in World War II. They were made in significant numbers. Analog
computers were also used in science and industry.
Analog quantities show the
continuity of a specified value. An example is a thermometer because it
measures the length of a mercury column, which varies continuously. Another
example is the analog clock, which measures time by means of the distance traveled
by the hand of the clock around a dial.
A digital computer is an
electronic computing machine that uses the binary digits (bits) 0 and 1 to
represent all forms of information internally in digital form.
has a set of instructions that define the basic functions it can perform.
Sequences of these instructions constitute machine language programs that can
be stored in the computer and used to tailor it to an essentially unlimited
number of specialized applications. Calculators are small computers specialized
for mathematical computations. General purpose computers range from pocket-sized personal digital assistants (notepad computers) to medium-sized desktop
computers (personal computers and workstations), to large, powerful computers
that are shared by many users via a computer network. The vast majority of
digital computers now in use are inexpensive. Special purpose microcontrollers are embedded, often invisibly in such devices as toys, and consumer
Differences between Analog and
Analog computer works with continuous values.
The digital computer works with discrete values. It
It has very limited memory.
It can store large amounts of data.
It has no state.
It has two states ON and OFF.
It can perform certain types of calculations.
Its speed of calculation is very high.
It is difficult to use.
IT is easy to use.
Analog computer is used in engineering and
A digital computer is widely used in almost all fields
An Analog computer is used for the calculation and
A digital computer is used to calculate
Its accuracy is high.
Its accuracy is comparatively low.
Its readability is low.
Its readability is high.
Examples of analog computers are thermometers,
Examples of digital computers are digital
Hybrid computers are computers
that exhibit features of analog computers and digital computers. The digital
component normally serves as the controller and provides logical operations,
while the analog component normally serves as a solver of differential
An example of a hybrid computer system is a cement plant where all
calculations are made by digital systems and accordingly actions such as
increase of certain material in the furnace and increase/decrease of fuel for
temperature is performed with the help of an analog system. Another example is the ICU
(Intensive Care Unit) of the hospital where the hybrid computer is used. The analog quality
of these computers controls the temperature of the room and given informs
the doctors about the blood pressure, temperature, and physical status of the
We have created this post for the
newbies who are new to the computer field. It is designed to develop basic
computer skills to enhance your knowledge. Also, you can review our posts on “What is Computer” and “Computer Hardware and Software”. If there is any kind of lack
in this post or if liked it, please comment to us. Thanks.