The journey of computers began with colossal machines driven by vacuum tubes, marking the era of first-generation computers. This article explores the transformative shift from first to second-generation computers, a transition that revolutionized the world of computing. The move from vacuum tubes to transistors was not merely a leap in technology; it was a paradigm shift that paved the way for more compact, reliable, and efficient computing devices. Let’s delve into the remarkable differences that define these two generations.
First Generation Computer
The first generation computer was within the period of 1940 – 1956. It was highly characterized by the fact that operating instructions were made to order for the specific task for which the computer was to be used.
Computers in the first generation used vacuum tubes invented by Lee De Forest in 1906 as the basic components of the Central Processing Unit. Magnetic drums were also used for data storage and Machine language for instruction.
Features of First Generation Computer
a. First generation computer made use of vacuum tube technology
b. Punched card, printing devices were used for input and output operations, and to store the result.
c. First generation computer is not capable of multitasking, as it is only capable of solving one problem at a time
d. Fist generationComputer occupies a very large space, has a slow processor, and is highly unreliable due to its low accuracy
e. Computers made use of electrostatic tubes, punch card, and magnetic tape
f. First generation computer made use of machine language for instruction to the computer
g. Magnetic core memory was used as the primary memory in first generation computer
h. First generation computer is not portable and is expensive, leaving only large organizations capable of affording it
i. First generation computer could only perform straight forward simple numerical calculation.
Examples of First generation computer includes: ENIAC (the first general purpose and digital computer), EDVAC, UNIVAC (the first successful commercial computer delivered to a business client), IBM-650, and IBM-701.
Second Generation Computer
The replacement of vacuum tubes with transistors birthed the second generation of Computer. The Second Generation Computer operated on transistors which are small devices used to amplify the electrical input of computers by transferring electric signals across a resistor.
These transistors were highly reliable in comparison with tubes used in the first generation. Additionally, the second generation computer replaced Machine language with Assembly language allowing abbreviated programming codes to replace long difficult binary codes.
Features of Second Generation Computer
a. Its operating speed is in terms of microsecond
b. It makes use of transistor
c. Magnetic core memory is the primary memory in second generation computer
d. Magnetic drum and tape were used as secondary memory
e. The second generation computer operated in high level languages such as COBOL (Common business oriented Language) and FORTRAN (Formula translation)
f. Assembly language was introduced for giving instruction to the second generation computer.
An example of the second generation computer is IBM 7090 which was the most powerful data processing computer then.
Differences Between The First And Second-Generation Computer
1) The first generation computer made use of vacuum tubes as internal component, whereas transistors were used in the second generation.
2) First generation computers operate in Machine language, while that of the second generation operate in assembly language.
3) The first generation computer was a low speed computer, in contrast to the second generation computer which was 10 times faster.
4) First generation computers are large in size, while computers of the second generation are smaller and more portable.
5) The main memory of the first generation computer is in form of magnetic drum, while the main memory of the second generation computer is in form of RAM and ROM.
6) In the first generation, Magnetic tapes were used for computer storage, while in the second generation, magnetic core technology was used.
7) The first generation computer generates a lot of heat thereby consuming high power. While the second generation computer generates less heat and consumes low power.
8) The first generation computers made use of punched cards which were not in use in the second generation.
9) Second generation computer has a wider commercial use and more reliability than the first generation computer
10) Lastly, the second generation computer differs from the First generation mainly because of its addition of set of index registers and arithmetic circuits.
The transition from first to second-generation computers was a pivotal moment in the history of computing. The shift from vacuum tubes to transistors brought forth smaller, faster, and more reliable computers. It not only transformed the technology but also laid the foundation for future innovations. The legacy of these advancements continues to shape our modern digital world, illustrating the remarkable journey of computing.