First generation of computers

Modern computer era owes much to the great technological advances that took place during World War II. Thus, the invention of electronic circuits, vacuum tubes and capacitors replace the generation of mechanical components while numerical calculation replaces analog calculation. The computers and products of this era constitute the so-called first generation of computers.

First generation of computers
  • Date: 1951 to 1958
  • Featured Computers: Atanasoff Berry Computer, MARK I, UNIVAC, ENIAC

What is the first generation of computers?

The first generation of computers was launched in the middle of the 20th century, specifically between 1946 and 1958, a period that generated great technological advances based on the search for an aid instrument in the scientific and military fields. These computers were very notorious and particular for the magnitude of their size and for the little power to acquire one.

Characteristics of the first generation of computers

The first generation of computers generated in the mid-twentieth century had the first indication or antecedent of modern computers, but among its main characteristics were its large size as well as its high cost of acquisition, and the recurrent theme of failures and errors for being experimental.

The computers counted with the use of vacuum tubes to process the information, punched cards for data entry and exit and programs, and used magnetic cylinders to store information and internal instructions.

The first ones on the market cost approximately $10,000. Due to their large size, their use implied a great amount of electricity, generating an overheating in the system, requiring special auxiliary air conditioning systems (in order to avoid this overheating). For example, the large ENIAC computer weighing up to 30 tons.

The first-generation computers used magnetic drums as data storage elements to be changed later in the second generation by ferrite memories.

History of the first generation of computers

The historical development of the first generation of computers does not have an exact beginning, since it is the result of previous discoveries and experimentation from different authors, but in this case would begin to take its development since the twentieth century.

The design of Charles Babbage’s analytical machine collected ideas as a primitive way of giving orders to the machine for the automatic performance of calculations and the introduction of data storage systems. These ideas were incorporated into the design of the ENIAC, the first electronic computer to be built. In it, they were later based for the UNIVAC I, which was the first computer to be manufactured commercially, as well as being the first to use a compiler to change the language from program to machine language.

Its main advances were the system of magnetic tapes, which were read back and forth, and the possibility of checking errors. The introduction of integrated circuits allowed the appearance of the first desktop computer in 1974. This immediate success led to the appearance of the IBM PC in 1981.

First generation of computers inventors

Featured PCs from the first generation of computers

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). First generation of computers. Recovered on 17 January, 2022, de Euston96:

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