First Generation of Computer

First Generation of Computer : (1940-1956)

The first large electronic computer was made in 1946 by a team lead by Eckert and Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA. This computer called Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC). This computer used high-speed vacuum tubes switching devices.

  • Timetable: 1940 - 1956
  • Use: Vaccum Tubes


First Generation of Computer

Details about First Generation of Computer

It was very expensive to operate and in addition to using a lot of electricity. It had a very small memory and was designed mainly to calculate the trajectories of missiles. These computers generate a lot of heat, which was often the cause of malfunctions.

When, John Von Neumann proposed the concept of a stored program in 1946, the logic design of the computer made a major breakthrough. His idea was to store machine instructions in the memory of the computer along with the data. These instructions can be modified as required by other instructions.

This makes it easy to implement program loops. The first computer to use this principle was designed and commissioned by the Cambridge University, UK, under the leadership of Wilkes. This computer called EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) was completed in 1949 to use mercury delay lines for storage.

Vacuum Tube

Commercial production of storage program computers began in the early 1950s. One of the early computers of this type was UNIVAC I, built by the Univac division of Remington Rand Corporation and delivered in 1951. This computer used vacuum tubes.

Since vacuum tubes use filaments as electron sources, their lifespan is limited. Each tube consumes about half a watt of power and typically used about ten thousand tubes. So, power dissipation was very high. Due to a large number of tubes, each with a limited lifetime, the average time between failures used to manufacture these computers is as low as one hour.

A UNIVAC computer at the Census Bureau, 1960
A UNIVAC computer at the Census Bureau, 1960.
During this time, computer programming was mainly done in machine language. Assembly language was invented in the early 1950s. The initial application of these computers was in science and engineering. The prospects of commercial applications were perceived, with the advent of UNIVAC.

The concept of an operating system has not yet emerged. In general, during this time, a person must be a good electronic engineer, have a very detailed understanding of the logical structure of the computer, and also know how to write an application to use the computer. It's like the early days of a car when a person must be a good mechanic who can drive.

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