History of computer part - 8 - Ts Read

Friday, 2 June 2017

History of computer part - 8

Transistor : Second Generation Computer

Transistors are made of semiconductors. A semiconductor is a mineral (for example silicon and germanium) that conducts electricity, though not as well as metals, and this is where its usefulness lies. Today companies ‘grow’ semiconductors in laboratories. They grow them in loaves and slice them into minuscule pieces. These, more simply, might be referred to as ‘chips’.

Computers belonging to the group that uses transistors are called second generation computers. Being smaller, faster, more reliable and cheaper than their predecessors, they soon became very popular. In fact, their popularity saw the growth of the computer industry in the world.

Integrated Circuits: Third Generation Computers

The growth of the industry brought with it new interest in the field of computer science. Consequently, the improvement on the second generation machines was not long in coming. It came with the arrival of the Integrated Circuit, or IC. An integrated circuit is a single component containing a number of transistors. They again were smaller, cheaper if and more reliable than single transistors. The first computers to use the IC’s were sold in 1964. All machines today, using the IC’s, are called third generation computers.

With the advent of the third generation machines, the prices of computers came down, the sale of them went up and the interest in them spiralled upward almost phenominally.

We have now come to a stage when the entire Central Processing Unit (the CPU or .Brain so to speak) of the computer is on a single chip. Such a chip is called a microprocessor.

Microcomputers (using these Microprocessor chips) first came into the market in 1972 and have an assortment of uses in camera's calculators control equipment and computers. One expects the microprocessor to invade our lives and have a major impact on the way we live. By the way, the first microcomputer was the ALTAIR 8800. It was named after an incident in STAR-TREK after one of the Enterprise’s missions to ALTAIR!!!

The microprocessor brings our story of the evolution of computers pretty much to the present. But, as you might expect, our story does not end here. Time, ideas and the creative instincts of man will continue to mould the evolution of the computer till  perhaps, our sci-fi dreams of today will become the realities of tomorrow.

As It has been so far, the first generation computers were made of valves; the second generation mtroduced transistor ; the third generation had integrated circuits with upto 100.transistors per chip. In contrast, fourth generation computers operate with chips havmg 1000 or more transistors.

Meanwhile, thoughts of a fifth generation computer are already in the air. This generation of computers plans to give highest priority to making the computer easy to handle and natural to use. The Japanese committee that has investigated the possibility of this says about it, “Intelligence will be greatly improved to approach that of a human being”.

Meanwhile the world waits and watches.

Time too for taking'a look at things in India. Just a look, mind you. In 1955, the first computer is said to have been installed in the country. It was the REC-2M and it found its home in Calcutta. Meanwhile, we had to wait till 1964 for the ISIJU, said to be the

first indigenously developed machine. This too was another first for Calcutta.

And finally, the last of the firsts: On the 25th of March, 1989, the Cray-X-MP-14, India’s first supercomputer, was installed in Delhi. It is meant to be used for facilitating weather forecasting, optimizing  agricultural operations, helping water resource management and other Such vital issues. It is very much around at present.