The Evolution of the Computer

  1. First Generation (1939-1954) - vacuum tube
  2. Second Generation Computers (1954-1959) - transistor
  3. Third Generation Computers (1959-1971) - IC
  4. Fourth Generation (1971-1991) - microprocessor
  5. Fifth Generation (1991 and Beyond)

1. First Generation (1939-1954) - vacuum tube

Atanasoff-Berry Computer 1939, from IEEE
magnetic drum memory of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer 1939, from Smithsonian NMAH
Whirlwind core memory 1951, from IEEE
first computer bug 1945, from IEEE


UNIVAC 1951, from Smithsonian NMAH
UNIVAC I ca. 1955, from Smithsonian
UNIVAC ad 1955/01/17 from Time
UNIVAC ad 1955/02/28 from Time
UNIVAC I of 1951 was the first business computer made in the U.S. "Many people saw a computer for the first time on television when UNIVAC I predicted the outcome of the 1952 presidential elections."


Bendix G-15 of 1956, inexpensive at $60,000, for science and industry but could also be used by a single user; several hundred were built - used magnetic tape drive and key punch terminal


IBM 650 that "became the most popular medium-sized computer in America in the 1950's" - rental cost was $5000 per month - 1500 were installed - able to read punched cards or magnetic tape - used rotating magnetic drum main memory unit that could store 4000 words, from Smithsonian NMAH



2.Second Generation Computers (1954 -1959) - transistor

Tom Watson, Jr.
transistor, from Smithsonian NMAH
"First transistor (model), December 1947. Constructed by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley at Bell Laboratories," from Smithsonian NMAH
Regency transistor radio 1954 (TL), Zenith transistor hearing aid 1952, from Smithsonian NMAH
Regency transistor radio 1954, from Smithsonian NMAH
Philco and Emerson transistor radios, from Smithsonian NMAH
transistor radios, from Smithsonian NMAH
transistor radios, from Smithsonian NMAH
Maico hearing aid before and after transistors, from Fortune 1953/03
Morton, Shockley, White who developed transistor, from Fortune 1953/03
RCA transistor ad, from Fortune 1953/03

3. Third Generation Computers (1959 -1971) - IC

IC, from Smithsonian NMAH
Polaroid IC 1961, from Smithsonian NMAH
DEC PDP-1 of 1960, from CHM
DEC PDP8/E minicomputer 1973 from SDCM - cu
Anderson Jacobson ADC 260 acoustic coupler 1963, from SDCM
early transistor calculators - Casio "Mini" used chips from TI (left); TI SR-10 calculator showing circuit in transparent case, used a single chip 1972, from Smithsonian NMAH
early transistor calculators - Casio "Mini" used chips from TI (left); TI SR-10 calculator showing circuit in transparent case, used a single chip 1972, from Smithsonian NMAH
IC, from Smithsonian NMAH
IC, from Smithsonian NMAH


4. Fourth Generation (1971-1991) - microprocessor

Intel 4004 microprocessor in 1971, from Intel Museum
Apple I of 1976 , from Smithsonian NMAH
Wozniak and Jobs introduced Apple II in 1977, from History of Apple
MITS Altair 8800A 1975 from SDCM - cu
Apple II personal computer 1978 with 5.25-inch Disk drives, from SDCM - cu
IBM 5151 personal computer 1981, from SDCM - cu
Seagate ST-251 5-inch 40 MB hard drive 1978, from SDCM - cu
Memorex Model 101 hard drive, 10 MB, 1983, from SDCM - cu


5. Fifth Generation (1991 and Beyond)

Nokia 9210 Communicator is part of the latest wave of web cell phones
The raveMP player sells for $269 and can store more than an hour of MP3 music
world's first production microchips made of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) transistors and copper wiring by IBM (AP 5/22/00)
body scans to buy clothes

Microsoft Reader
Michael Crichton displays a handheld computer with his latest bestselling novel "Timeline" in Microsoft Reader form on the screen (AP 5/23/00)
digital insertion ad
digital insertion ad

Jeff Bezos of amazon.com
wearable computers
Apple G4
Linux


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1999-2007 by Steven E. Schoenherr. All rights reserved.

revised 5/1/07 by Steven Schoenherr | Recording Technology History