First generation of computers

The modern computer age 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 the numerical calculation replaces the analog calculation. Computers and products of this era form the so-called first generation of computers .

  • Date: From 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 on the market in the middle of the 20th century , specifically between 1946 and 1958, a time that generated great technological advances from the search for an aid instrument in the scientific and military fields. These computers were very notorious and particular due to the magnitude of their size and the little power to acquire one.

  • Characteristics of the first generation of computers
  • History of the first generation of computers
  • Inventors of the first generation of computers
  • Featured Computers from the First Generation of Computers

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 was its large size as well as its high acquisition cost and the recurring theme of failures and errors for being experimental.

They counted on the use of vacuum tubes to process information, punched cards for the input and output of data and programs, and they used magnetic cylinders to store information and internal instructions .

The first ones on the market had an approximate cost of about $ 10,000 . Being large, its use implied a large amount of electricity , generating overheating in the system, requiring auxiliary special air conditioning systems (in order to avoid this overheating). For example, the large ENIAC computer that weighed 30 tons.

The first generation computers used magnetic drums as data storage elements to be exchanged later in the second generation for 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 derivation of previous discoveries and experimentation by different authors, but in this case its development would begin to take place from the 20th century .

Charles Babbage’s design of the analytical engine collected ideas as a primitive way of giving orders to the engine for automatic 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 . On this, they were later based for the UNIVAC I , which was the first computer to be manufactured commercially , in addition to being the first that a compiler was used to change the language of the program to machine language. Its main advances were the magnetic tape system, which could be read back and forth, and the ability to check for errors.The introduction of integrated circuits allowed the first desktop computer to emerge in 1974 . This immediate success spawned the appearance of the IBM PC in 1981.

Inventors of the first generation of computers

  • Howard Aiken (1900- 1973), developed the Automatic Sequence Controller Calculator (ASCC), where, in turn, he based on Babbage’s work with the analytical engine, managing to build the Mark 1 , the first electro-mechanical computer (1944), that had a speed of a couple of tenths of a second to add or subtract, two seconds to multiply two 11-digit numbers and divide within a period of more or less 4 seconds.
  • Eckert and Mauchly contributed to the development of first-generation computers by forming a private company and building UNIVAC I , which the Census Committee used to evaluate the 1950 census. IBM had a monopoly on card-based data processing equipment. perforated.
  • Von Neumann , the first to use binary or double arithmetic on an electronic computer. Although its greatest contribution occurs with the collaboration with Arthur W. Burks and Herman . H. They write Discussion of the logical design of an electronic computing instrument , which served as the basis (even to the present day), for the construction of computers. Ideas such as: the central concept, which allowed to organize programs and data in the same medium (memory) and the use of the first machine to use magnetic tapes, such as the EDVAC design, Electronic discrete variable automatic computer, were exposed.

Featured Computers from the First Generation of Computers

  • Atanasoff Berry Computer (ABC): The first automatic electronic digital computer developed between 1937 and 1942, which was named after its two authors, principally John Vicent Atanasoff and his assistant, Clifford Berry. He was able to perform equations of up to 29 unknowns with a high level of accuracy.
  • MARK I: The first electro-mechanical computer , which was the product of Howard Aiken based on his research in the field, such as the work of Babbage. Which leads him to be the founder of the ASCC, Automatic Sequence Controller Calculator . This computer had a magnitude of 15 meters long x 2.4 meters high, since it was made up of around 800,000 pieces and more than 804 km of wiring. Its speed was not the best, however, it was an advance for the time since the MARK II and MARK III were later built .
  • UNIVAC: Universal Automatic Computer paved the way for the explosive development and improvement of computers that would be produced. It appeared for the first time in 1951, being the first digital computer for commercial use . Its creators were John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert, taking around 5 years to complete. It was characterized, like all computers of this generation, by its magnitude since it weighed 7,257 kg; It was made up of 5,000 vacuum tubes and could run about 1,000 calculations per second, being quite fast for its time.
  • ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer): created in 1943 by John W. Mauchly and John Presper Eckert, in order to provide help or facilitate problems in the military field , since an instrument was required to be used as a means. Its realization took around 3 years and even so it continued to generate a good number of problems apart from its enormous size and energy consumption that it required for its operation. In addition to that, it also presented problems with the programming since it was very complex to modify, being a model quickly overcome.

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