CONCEPTS

Computer History

We explain how the history of the computer, its background and the characteristics of each generation of computers.

  1. Computer History

The computers , computers or computers are more efficient calculation tools ever invented . They have enough computing power, autonomy and processing speed to replace us in many tasks, or allow us work dynamics that have never been possible before in history , to the point of becoming indispensable today.

These devices were invented in the twentieth century, forever revolutionizing the way we understand industrial processes , communications , society and many other areas of life .

Its history begins with the first computer itself, whose authorship cannot be strictly attributed to any single person . Since then they have changed enormously and have changed us greatly, so many scholars consider their appearance a Second Industrial Revolution or even a Digital Revolution.

  1. Computer background

The background of the computer dates back to 4,000 a year C. when the first machines designed for arithmetic and the first calculation rules were invented . Among them is the abacus, an important advance in the matter.

Very later, more sophisticated inventions were created, such as the Blaise Pascal machine (known as Pascal or Pascalina Machine), created in 1642. It consisted of a series of gears that allowed to perform arithmetic operations mechanically. When improving it, in 1671 Gottfried Leibniz began the first calculators , close computer premiums.

In 1802 Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a punch card system that would allow him to automate his looms and thus reduce the need for labor. In 1822 they were the inspiration of the Englishman Charles Babbage in the creation of a differential calculation machine. Babbage is “the father of the computer” because in 1834 he invented a kind of analytical machine .

  1. First generation (from 1940 to 1952)

1940 computer history
Punched cards provided instructions to the first machines.

The initial generation of computers begins with the invention of the first automatic calculation machines , which could be considered as a “computer”. They responded to the need during World War II to crack enemy secret codes.

They were electronically based on valves and vacuum tubes. They could be programmed using a set of simple instructions, which should be supplied to the system through perforated cards of paper or cardboard, as in Babbage’s invention.

  1. Second generation (from 1956 to 1964)

The second generation represented an important change, since the vacuum valves were replaced by transistors , allowing to make the machines much smaller and also reducing their electrical consumption.

These were also the first machines to have a programming language , such as the famous FORTRAN. Thus, the punch card system soon became obsolete.

  1. Third generation (from 1965 to 1971)

integrated circuit computer history
The integrated circuits initiated the miniaturization of computers.

The jump to the third generation was determined by the invention of integrated circuits: they allowed to increase the processing capacity of the machines and if that were not enough to reduce their manufacturing costs .

These were printed circuits on silicon pads, with small transistors and semiconductors incorporated. This was the first step towards the miniaturization of computers.

  1. Fourth generation (from 1972 to 1980)

history of the fourth generation personal computer
The microprocessors appeared with the first personal computers.

The gradual integration of the previous electronic components led to the appearance of microprocessors : new integrated circuits that bring together all the fundamental elements of the computer and which soon began to be called chips .

Thanks to them, computers could decentralize their logical-arithmetic operations. For example, replacing silicon ring memory with chip memory was an important step towards microcomputing. The first personal computers or PCs belonged to this generation .

  1. Fifth generation (from 1983 to 2019)

The most recent and current generation today , witnessed the most enormous diversification in the field of the computer of all its history. It became portable, light and comfortable , and even expanded its borders of use thanks to the possibility of computer networks .

The computer does not even need to be fixed in a room, but can travel in our briefcases. Never before has processing speed, versatility and comfort converged so much in the computer world, allowing it to merge with phones (giving birth to the Smartphone) and with many different formats.

  1. Sixth generation (from 2019 to the near future)

Little is known about the generation of computers to come. The great advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and learning algorithms promise a highly automated future with enormous industrial potentials. In it the computer can stop being an artifact that accompanies us and become inside our own bodies.

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