Computersare machines used to receive, process commands and store data informof binary code. These machines have become essential in our dailylives, at home, school, business and everywhere because, everythinghas been digitalized. The history of computers can be divided intofour generations. The first generation computers that utilized vacuumtubes (1940-1956), the second generation computers that utilizedtransistors (1956-1963), the third generation computers that utilizedintegrated circuits (1964 -1971) and finally the fourth-generationcomputers that utilizes microprocessors (1971 to present)(Shelly, Freund, & Vermaat, 2010).
Thefirst modern digital computer Atanasoff- Berry Computer (ABC) wasbuilt by a team led by Professor John Atanasoff in Iowa StateUniversity in Ames, between the year 1939 and 1942. The machineutilized some of the concepts that are used today such as binaryprocessing, separate memory, regenerative memory and binaryarithmetic. The knowledge was used to develop Electronic NumericalIntegrator and Computer (ENIAC), which was developed at theUniversity of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering(Shellyet al., 2010).The development of ENIAC began as a joint venture between the U.S.Army and Navy, to prepare a firing and bombing tables for the U.S.Programming. ENIAC was a difficult task requiring manual cableconnection and switches, though it was an efficient tool forproviding solutions to scientific problems from 1949 to 1952.
In1945 Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) wasdeveloped by Von Neumann, the computer had a memory and could holddata and store programs (Shellyet al., 2010).The memory and conditional transfer attribute allowed the process ofa computer to stop and resume at any time, thus providing greaterversatility in programming.
In1951 Remington Rand unveiled Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC 1),which became the first computer to commercially utilize previousinventions(Ceruzzi, 2003).The early computers utilized the use of magnetic drums and vacuumtubes to store data.
`In 1948, the invention of transistors transformed the field ofcomputer development. They replaced the vacuum tubes which werecumbersome. These led to the development of commercial computers suchas IBM, Burroughs, and Honeywell (Ceruzzi,2003).By 1965, most enormous business organizations utilized the use ofcomputer programming language to process financial information. Thetransistors had a problem they generated a lot of heat which used todamage the essential inner parts of a computer. In 1958, abreakthrough came when Jack Kirby invented silicon Integrated Circuit(IC), which was made from quartz (Ceruzzi,2003).
By1980 the components of the silicon were shrunk into the use of thechip, this in turn, led to the development of many computers as theirsizes were small and easy to make. The small chip increased theefficiency, reliability and power of computers. In 1981, IBMdeveloped personal computer PC, which could be used at home, schooland office. The number of PC users doubled from 2 million in 1981 to5.5 million in 1982 (Ceruzzi,2003).
Afterten years, smaller computers which could be networked to sharesoftware, information, memory and communicate with each other weredevelopment due to the discovery of microchip processor (Ceruzzi,2003).This technology revolutionized the world of computers as we know it,as a thousand integrated circuits could be built in a single siliconchip. This era began in 1971 when Intel developed the first 4-bitprocessor 4004. It had 2000 transistors with a speed of up to 1megahertz. In the subsequent year, the 8-bit microprocessor wasintroduced (Frauenfelder,2015).At this time, more companies started producing personal computersamong them Apple, but at that time, Apple 1 was not widely used.
In1976, a low-cost microprocessor Z80 was introduced by Zilog(Frauenfelder,2015).It was powerful, but it had to be run at a higher clock frequency.Intel kept being at the front in inventing processors as it came upwith a 16-bit processor, the 8086, and also a math processor 8087which could transmit 8 bits at a time. In 1981 IBM developedcomputers, which utilized a ram of 64 kilobytes (KB) and 4.7 MHz8000. Also, the machines used cassette tape and floppy drive asstorage devices. In 1993, Pentiums chip was developed, whichincorporated a new technology called RISC and also had multithreadingcapabilities (Frauenfelder,2015).Pentium-I had the speeds 60MHz, 32-bit bus address and 32-bitregisters, 64-bit data path, dual pipeline, branch prediction and atleast 8 KB write-back cache of data.
In1995, Pentium Pro with 5.5 million transistors and second-speedenhancing memory chip was developed. This was better in performanceas it utilized dynamic execution technology. To fulfill the needs ofmultimedia extension, Pentium MMX, it had the speeds of 166MHz(Frauenfelder,2015).It was utilized in enhancing the performance of graphics and games.As time passed, subsequent processors were developed, which increasedthe speed and performance of modern computers. Currently for any PCthat is made, the manufacturer considers its speed as it has become aquality that every consumer is looking for. Intel fastest PC is Corei7-5960, which has a speed limit of 3.5GHz, 20MB cache and draws 140watts of power(Frauenfelder, 2015).
Thus,computers are defined by their processors as it is supported by fourgenerations of computers. The advancement of technology has led tonew discoveries and it won’t be impossible to process a computerthat stimulates feelings just like a human being. So far that is theonly breakthrough that everyone is waiting for the artificiallyintelligent man.
Ceruzzi, P. E.(2003). Ahistory of modern computing.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Frauenfelder, M.(2015). Thecomputer: An Illustrated history from Its origins to the present pay.London: Carlton books.
Shelly, G. B.,Freund, S. M., & Vermaat, M. (2010). Introductionto computers (8th ed.).Boston, MA: Course Technology.