Brief History Of Computer Technology
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Whether you’re in the IT field trying to understand networking and machine to machine, or just a regular person wanting to know about the first computers here’s some good information for you. The first generation of electronic computers was developed starting with 1943 and was named the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. It was completed two years later and was used mostly for calculations during the design of the hydrogen bomb. The first programs were written in machine code, which means that programmers had to directly write down the numbers that corresponded to those instructions that they wanted to store in memory. Later on during the 50s, programmers started using a symbolic notation which we now know as an assembly language, then they hand-translated this symbolic notation into the machine code.
The second generation debuted in the 60s and the first machines from this era were the TRADIC and the TX-0. The memory technology was based on magnetic cores that were accessed in a random order. Some of the most important breakthroughs of those days include the index registers for controlling loops as well as floating point units for the calculations that were based on real numbers. This is the period when many high level programming languages were introduced, like FORTRAN, ALGOL and COBOL. We should also mention significant commercial machines like the IBM 704.
The third generation came with a significant boost in computational power as this was the period when researchers started using integrated circuits, semiconductor memories, along with the use of microprogramming as a technique for designing complex processors in an efficient way. In 1963 Cambridge in collaboration with the University of London developed the CPL – Combined Programming Language.
The fourth generation debuted in the beginning of the 70s and saw the use of large scale integration and very large scale integration for constructing computing elements. Core memories were replaced by semiconductor memories as the main type of memory in most of the systems. It was also the period when high speed vector processors like the CYBER 205 started dominating the high performance computing scene, leading to the emerge of computers with large main memory, like the CRAY 2.
The fifth generation can be characterized by the general acceptance of parallel processing, along with the development of computer networks and also the use of single-user workstations. In that period, the scientific computing was still dominated by vector processing, and it was the time when WAN – Wide Area Network and LAN – Local Area Network technologies developed at a fast rate.
The sixth and current generation started with lots of gains in parallel computing and it also marks the growth of the aforementioned WAN. In the last few years, network bandwidth has expanded a great deal and it will continue to do so for the next couple of years.
What’s next for computer technology? Only time will tell.