Computer : An Introduction and It’s generations

Basic Functions of Computer

1. Input Function

Input is the process of entering any type of data and instructions into a computer system by using the input devices such as a Keyboard, Mouse, Scanner, Microphone, etc, in order to receive user signals to the computer.

We use such input devices to input the data into the computer by typing the words and sentences through the keyboard, by scrolling and clicking the buttons through the mouse, recording the audio and video through microphone and camera, etc.

2. Processing Data

This processing function is the 2nd step that offers the process and handling of the input data instructed by the user. To process the user input data computer needs a’ Central Processing Unit‘ (CPU).

The computer CPU, of course, is primarily obliged to entire process data of the computer. The CPU takes data and instructions from the input devices and performs all types of calculations based on the instructions given.

3. Storing the Data

The computer must store the data permanently so that it is available while processing data temporarily. The function of data storage is an important component for the proper functioning of computer systems.

Basically, there are two types of storage in the CPU of a Computer – One is RAM (used for processing the input data temporarily ) and the second is ROM (used to store processed data permanently).

4. Output Function

The fourth and the last function of the computer is the output that means the results generated by the computer once the processing of CPU is completed, based on the instruction given by the user.

The output is in the form of documents, videos, audio, graphs, images, etc. that you see from the output devices such as computer monitor, printer, speakers, headphones, screen projector, etc.

Basic Computer Terminologies

1. CPU

CPU means ‘Central Processing Unit’. This is the place of computer data handling. Moreover, it does all the data manipulation, calculations and formatting data for output.

2. RAM

Specifically, RAM stands for “Random Access Memory” or “Ready Access Memory”. It is a temporary notepad where your computer sends information to disk, or to the storage place of instructions from other input devices. The term “random access” indicates that memory locations in RAM are accessible in any order unlike sequential access of a data cassette tape.

5. Hardware

Hardware is the term referring to all the physical parts in a computer system. It includes the monitor, the keyboard, the mouse, the main case which stores the RAM, CPU and the motherboard.

6. Software

‘Software’ is the term which refers to the instructions needed to make a computer work. It is intangible in nature. The software is also known as a “program”. Also, it is a set of computer files which are used to perform various actions on the computer.

Computer : An Introduction :-

 The term ‘Computer’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Computare which means to calculate. Computer is a programmable device,
designed to carry out a sequence of arithmetical and logical operations sequentially and automatically.

  • A computer is an electronic machine that accepts data (input) from the user, processes the data by performing calculations and operations on it and then, generates the desired results (output) to the user.
  • Charles Babbage also known as father of computer, who invented the Analytical Engine (first general purpose computer)
  • Abacus is a first mechanical calculating device.
  • Pascaline was a first mechanical adding machine.
  • ENIAC was a first electronic digital computer.
  • EDSAC was first computer which provided storage capacity.

First Generation Computers

The period of first generation was from 1946-1959. The computers of first generation used vacuum tubes as the basic components for memory and circuitry for CPU (Central Processing Unit).

These tubes, like electric bulbs, produced a lot of heat and the installations used to fuse frequently. Therefore, they were very expensive and only large organizations were able to afford it.

In this generation, mainly batch processing operating system was used. Punch cards, paper tape, and magnetic tape was used as input and output devices. The computers in this generation used machine code as the programming language.

The main features of the first generation are:
• Vacuum tube technology
• Unreliable
• Supported machine language only
• Very costly
• Generates lot of heat
• Slow input and output devices
• Huge size
• Need of AC
• Non-portable
• Consumes lot of electricity

Some computers of this generation were:
• IBM-701
• IBM-750

Second Generation Computers

The period of second generation was from 1959-1965. In this generation, transistors were used that were cheaper, consumed less power, more compact in size, more reliable and faster than the first-generation machines made of vacuum tubes.

In this generation, magnetic cores were used as the primary memory and magnetic tape and magnetic disks as secondary storage
In this generation, assembly language and high-level programming languages like FORTRAN, COBOL were used. The computers used batch processing and multiprogramming operating system.

The main features of second generation are:
• Use of transistors
• Reliable in comparison to first generation computers
• Smaller size as compared to first generation computers
• Generates less heat as compared to first generation computers
• Consumed less electricity as compared to first generation computers
• Faster than first generation computers
• Still very costly
• AC required
• Supported machine and assembly languages
Some computers of this generation were:
• IBM 1620
• IBM 7094
• CDC 1604

Third Generation Computers

The period of third generation was from 1965-1971. The computers of third generation used Integrated Circuits (ICs) in place of transistors. A single IC has many transistors, resistors, and
capacitors along with the associated circuitry.
The IC was invented by Jack Kilby. This development made computers smaller in size, reliable and efficient.

In this generation remote processing, time-sharing, multi-programming operating system were used. High-level languages (FORTRAN-II TO IV, COBOL, PASCAL PL/1, BASIC, ALGOL-68 etc.) were used during this generation.

The main features of third generation are:
• IC used
• More reliable in comparison to previous two generations
• Smaller size
• Generated less heat
• Faster
• Lesser maintenance
• Costly
• AC required
• Consumed lesser electricity
• Supported high-level language

Some computers of this generation were:
• IBM-360 series
• Honeywell-6000 series
• PDP (Personal Data Processor)
• IBM-370/168

Fourth Generation Computers

The period of fourth generation was from 1971-1980. Computers of fourth generation used Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits. VLSI circuits having about 5000 transistors and other circuit elements with their associated circuits on a single chip made it possible to have
microcomputers of fourth generation.

Fourth generation computers became more powerful, compact, reliable, and affordable. As a result, it gave rise to Personal Computer (PC) revolution. In this generation, time sharing, real time networks, distributed operating system were used.

All the high-level languages like C, C++, DBASE etc., were used in this generation.

The main features of fourth generation are:
• VLSI technology used
• Very cheap
• Portable and reliable
• Use of PCs
• Very small size
• Pipeline processing
• No AC required
• Concept of internet was introduced
• Great developments in the fields of networks
• Computers became easily available

Some computers of this generation were:
• DEC 10
• STAR 1000
• PDP 11
• CRAY-1(Super Computer)

Fifth Generation Computers

The period of fifth generation is 1980-till date. In the fifth generation, VLSI technology became ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology, resulting in the production of microprocessor chips having ten million electronic components.

This generation is based on parallel processing hardware and AI (Artificial Intelligence) software. AI is an emerging branch in computer science, which interprets the means and method of making computers think like human beings. All the high-level languages like C and C++, Java, .Net etc., are used in this generation.

The main features of fifth generation are:
• ULSI technology
• Development of true artificial intelligence
• Development of Natural language processing
• Advancement in Parallel Processing
• Advancement in Superconductor technology
• More user-friendly interfaces with multimedia features
• Availability of very powerful and compact computers at cheaper rates

Some computer types of this generation are:
• Desktop
• Laptop
• Notebook
• Ultrabook
• Chromebook

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