‡ The word computer is an old word that has changed its meaning several times in the last few centuries. Originating from the Latin, by the mid-17th century it meant someone who computes . The American Heritage Dictionary (1980) gives its first computer definition as a person who computes. The computer remained associated with human activity until about the middle of the 20th century when it became applied to a programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data as Webster s Dictionary (1980) defines it. Today, the word computer refers to computing devices, whether or not they are electronic, programmable, or capable of storing and retrieving data.

speed of internal operation of the computer.Classification by Capacity ‡ Computers can be classified according to their capacity. Their performance is determined by the amount of data that can be stored in memory. The term capacity refers to the volume of work or the data processing capability a computer can handle. amount and type of software available for use with the computer. number and type of peripheral devices. .

I MICROCOMPUTERS ‡ The Microcomputer has the lowest level capacity. . The machine has memories that are generally made of semiconductors fabricated on silicon chips. The microcomputer is a digital computer system that is controlled by a stored program that uses a microprocessor. The ROM defines the instructions to be executed by the computer while RAM is the functional equivalent of computer memory. a programmable read-only memory (ROM) and a random-access memory (RAM). Large-scale production of silicon chips began in 1971 and this has been of great use in the production of microcomputers.

This means that many programs can be run concurrently. Minicomputer systems provide faster operating speeds and larger storage capacities than microcomputer systems. Operating systems developed for minicomputer systems generally support both multiprogramming and virtual storage. the growing demand for a smaller standalone machine brought about the manufacture of the minicomputer. . to handle tasks that large computers could not perform economically. This type of computer system is very flexible and can be expanded to meet the needs of users.II MINICOMPUTERS ‡ In the 1960s.

A medium-size computer can support a management information system and can therefore serve the needs of a large bank. . They can support a large number of high-speed input/output devices and several disk drives can be used to provide online access to large data files as required for direct access processing and their operating systems also support both multiprogramming and virtual storage. Burroughs 3500 System and NCR Century 200 system are examples of medium-size computers. This allows the running of variety of programs concurrently.III MEDIUM-SIZE COMPUTERS ‡ Medium-size computer systems provide faster operating speeds and larger storage capacities than mini computer systems. insurance company or university. They usually have memory sizes ranging from 32k to 512k. The IBM System 370.

Large computers have storage capacities from 512k to 8192k. They usually contain full control systems with minimal operator intervention. Expandability to 8 or even 16 million characters is possible with some of these systems. and these computers have internal operating speeds measured in terms of nanosecond. Such characteristics permit many data processing jobs to be accomplished concurrently. ‡ 6 .IV LARGE COMPUTERS ‡ Large computers are next to Super Computers and have bigger capacity than the Medium-size computers. as compared to small computers where speed is measured in terms of microseconds. Large computer system ranges from single-processing configurations to nationwide computer-based networks involving general large computers.

Because of their size. supercomputers sacrifice a certain amount of flexibility. They are therefore not ideal for providing a variety of user services. For this reason.V SUPERCOMPUTERS ‡ The supercomputers are the biggest and fastest machines today and they are used when billion or even trillions of calculations are required. supercomputers may need the assistance of a medium-size general purpose machines (usually called front-end processor) to handle minor programs or perform slower speed or smaller volume operation. Super computers have capabilities far beyond even the traditional large-scale systems. . and time sharing networks. These machines are applied in nuclear weapon development. Their speed ranges from 100 million-instruction-persecond to well over three billion. accurate weather forecasting and as host processors for local computer.

‡ First Generation ‡ Second Generation ‡ Third Generation ‡ Fourth Generation ‡ Fifth Generation .Generation of computers ‡ The generation of the computers can be classified into five generations.

Machine language (binary language) was used to execute a series of instructions. which were large in size. EDVAC UNIVAC- . Magnetic tapes were used for external storage. and output consisted of paper or punched cards.First generation computers(1951-1959) ‡ The 1st generation computers UNIVAC and other similar computers used massive number of vacuum tubes. slower in operation. The data was entered through punched cards. ‡ Examples : UNIVAC-1. EDSAC.

more powerful & reliable than the 1st generation computers. and made programming easier than Binary & Assembly. CDC 1604 Examples: 1401. Programming output. Assembly. . punched cards & magnetic tapes were for inputting the data. were used as external storage. and punched cards & paper for output. languages were being developed. faster in operation.Second generation computers(19591965) ‡ The second generation computers used transistors in place of vacuum tubes. These transistors were made up tubes. ‡ Examples: IBM 1401. of semiconductors. which made the computer smaller in size. Magnetic tapes & disks computers.

and more efficient than 2nd generation computers. . Hundreds of transistors were built on a single silicon chip. faster in operation.Third generation computers(1965-1971) ‡ Integrated circuits in place of transistors gave the birth to 3rd generation computers. Integrated circuits (ICs) are smaller. less expensive. Magnetic disks were improved to store more volume of data.

The operating system was introduced. Improved versions of HighHigh-level languages were being introduced. CDC 7600 PDP- . ‡ Examples : IBM 360. PDP-11. which was used to control the system & its resources.‡ Keyboards & monitors were used to input and output a data.

Later. The design of LSI (LSI). the VLSI (Very Large chip. made to place thousands of transistors on a single silicon chip. chip. . Scale Integration) was developed.Fourth generation computers(1971-Present) ‡ The process of further modification in computers led to the development of largelargescale integration (LSI). which could place hundreds of thousands of transistors on a single silicon chip.

‡ This incorporation of hundreds of thousands of transistors on a single chip led the development of microprocessors. used. Deskpro 386. 80386.HP3000 386. ‡ Examples: Micro computers-80836.HP3000 . spreadsheet. Mini computers. such as Intel 80386. 80486. 80486. Magnetic disks were used for input. application software like word processing. graphics etc were developed and used. input. computers. Compaq Examples: computers-80836.

think and reason. to build the system known as expert system or knowledge based systems. popular in future since they can ³ Think and reason´.Fifth generation computers ‡ Fifth generation computers are under the process of development. They will be systems. These computers can development. Some countries are working reason. reason´. .

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