Generations of computers: tables, features and history. What does the term computer generation mean?

The advent of modern computers, which we use, was preceded by a complete evolution in the development of computing technology. According to the broader theory, the development of the computer industry continued for many different generations.

Modern experts believe that there are six of them. Five of them are gone, another is on the way. What do IT experts think of the term “computer generation”? What are the main differences between the different periods of computing development?

A prehistory of the advent of the computer

The history of the development of 5 generations of computers is interesting and fascinating. But before you read that, it would be helpful to know the facts about the technical solutions before the development of computers.

People have always tried to improve the method of counting. Historians have found that instruments for working with numbers, which are of a mechanical nature, were invented in ancient Egypt and other ancient kingdoms. In the Middle Ages, European inventors devised a mechanism by which, in particular, the interval of lunar waves could be calculated.

Some experts used the Babbage machine, invented in the early nineteenth century, as a prototype of modern computers, with programming calculation functions. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, devices began to be used in electronics. He was primarily involved in the telephone and radio communications industry.

In 1915, German emigrant Hermann Holrith, who emigrated to the United States, founded IBM, which later became one of the most recognizable brands in the IT industry. One of the most exciting inventions of Herman Hollorth was cartoon cards, which have been the mainstay of information for decades during the use of computers. By the end of the 1930’s, technologies emerged that made it possible to talk about the beginning of the computer age in the development of human civilization.

Computer signal

Computer signal

Programming experts consider computing devices to be the key to classifying computers, or computers. In this, similar machines, in particular, differ from calculators, although the latter may be the case. The standard is correct. For this reason, as machines were invented, they may have been very similar to calculators in terms of their external features, but those that could be programmed became known as computers.

As a rule, the term “computer generation” is defined as a computer related to a specific technical configuration. That is, the basis of the hardware solution on which the computer operates. At the same time, the distribution of computers across generations is far from arbitrary, according to the criteria suggested by IT experts (although, of course, there are transitional forms of computers that are vaguely classified into a particular category. It’s difficult).

Once we get the theoretical tour, we can start studying the generations of computers. The following table will help you to visit each period.



1 1930s – 1950s

2 1960s and 1970s

3 1970s and 1980s

4 The second half of the 70’s – the early 90’s

5 90s – Our time


6 In developing


Next, we will look at the technical features of each type of computer. We will explain the features of computer generation. Now the table we have compiled will be completed by others, in which the relevant categories and technical parameters will be collaborated.

Let’s note an important resource – the following argument is primarily concerned with the evolution of computers, which are now commonly interpreted as personal. There are completely different classes of computers – military, industrial. There are so-called “supercomputers”. Their appearance and development is a different matter.

The first computer

the first computer
In 1938, German engineer Konrad Zeus developed a device called the Z1, and released an improved version of the Z2 – the 42nd. In 1943, the British invented their own computing machine and called it “Colossus”. Some experts agree to consider English and German machines as the first computers. In 1944, the Americans also built a computer based on intelligence from Germany. The name of the computer manufactured in the United States was “Mark I”.

In 1946, American engineers made a small revolution in the field of computer engineering, creating an ENIAC tube computer, which was 1000 times more productive than the “Mark I”. The next famous American development was the computer built in 1951, called UNIAC. Its main feature is that it was the first computer to be used as a commercial product.

By this time, by the way, Soviet engineers working at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences had already invented their own computer. Our development was named MESM. According to experts, its performance was the highest among the accumulated computers in Europe.

Technical features of the first generation of computers
In fact, what is the basis of the first generation of computer development? IT experts consider such a component in the form of vacuum tubes. The first generation machines also had a number of external features. Too big size, too much energy consumption.

Their computational power was also relatively modest, it was several thousand Hz. At the same time, first generation computers had a lot in common with modern computers. Specifically, it is machine code that allows you to program commands, as well as write data to memory (using punched cards and electrostatic tubing).

The first generation of computer users require the highest level of competence. Not only sound education but his alertness and dedication too are most required. He also said that there is a need for engineering knowledge in the field of electronics.

In the first generation of computers, as we have already said, there was already RAM. True, it was very small, expressed in hundreds, at best, thousands of bytes. The first RAM modules for computers could hardly be classified as an electronic component. They were tubular containers filled with mercury. Memory crystals were fixed in some areas, and thus the data was saved. However, just before the invention of the first computer. Later, another perfect memory based on ferrite core appeared.

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