The second generation of computers spanned the period from 1959 to 1964 . This generation marked a new era that was defined by the replacement of vacuum valves by transistors , which involved the creation of more reliable computers with lower ventilation needs, making them commercially accessible and powerful. In addition, the use of high-level languages allowed the improvement in the implementation of programs and their use in airline reservation systems, air traffic control and general-purpose simulations. Large companies began to use the computer for storage, recording, inventory management, payroll, and accounting.
- Date: From 1959 to 1964
- Featured computers: IBM 1401, Honeywell 800 and 5000 series, UNIVAC M460, IBM 7090 and 7094, NCR 315, RCA 501 and 601
What is the second generation of computers?
The second generation of computers marks a milestone in the history of computers thanks to the technological advance that meant the creation of transistors to process information to replace vacuum tubes . 200 transistors could be accommodated in the same amount of space as a vacuum tube, a feature that made them faster, smaller and more reliable . Computers began to shrink and small magnetic rings were used to store information and instructions . On the other hand, the computer programs that were conceived during the first generation were improved, since new programming languages such as COBOL and FORTRAN were developed .
- Characteristics of the second generation of computers
- History of the second generation of computers
- Size of second generation computers
- Inventions of the second generation of computers
- Inventors of the second generation of computers
- Featured computers from the second generation of computers
Characteristics of the second generation of computers
The invention of the transistor made possible a new generation of computers with the following characteristics:
- They were built with transistor electronics.
- They took up less space and produced less heat than computers that operated on vacuum tubes.
- More powerful, more reliable, and less expensive, which made them more commercial.
- They were programmed with high level languages which allowed new utilities in which it could be used.
- They used networks of magnetic cores instead of rotating drums for primary storage, which contained small rings of magnetic material linked together, in which data and instructions could be stored.
History of the second generation of computers
The creation of transistors and their use in the manufacture of computers triggered a series of events in the history of computing, not only because they represented a significant technological advance, but also began a new stage in the commercialization of equipment.
In 1956 , IBM sold its first magnetic disk system, the RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control). This team was characterized by using 50 metal discs of 61 cm, with 100 tracks per side. It had a storage capacity of 5 megabytes of data. IBM developed the first high-level general- purpose programming language , FORTRAN.
Later, in 1959 , IBM continued its evolution and created the most successful machine in the history of computing (12,000 units sold): the IBM 1401 transistor-based mainframe . It used punch cards and a 4000 character magnetic core memory.
As early as 1960, IBM launched the IBM 1620 mainframe. This transistor-based equipment used a perforated paper tape which quickly changed to perforated cards. It proved to be a popular scientific computer, reaching sales of approximately 2000 units. It used a magnetic core memory with more than 60,000 decimal digits.
A couple of years later, in 1962, Spacewar! Was developed, the first computer game . In addition, DEC launched the PDP-1 , its first machine basically aimed at technical personnel in laboratories and for research.
Finally, in 1964, IBM released the 360 series , made up of computers that were characterized by running the same software in different combinations of speed, capacity and price. Likewise, it implemented the commercial use of microprograms, and easy-to-use instructions for their use to process many types of data, and not only of a numerical type (arithmetic). IBM had two product lines, a “commercial” product line and a “scientific” line, which were unified into one.
Size of second generation computers
The first computers used vacuum tubes and took up considerable space (up to 30m long). In the second generation, the size of computers began to decrease thanks to the creation of transistors to process information. Computers could store more data in less space, 200 transistors could fit in the same amount of space as a vacuum tube . This advancement made computers faster, smaller, lighter, more reliable and with less ventilation needs, while also making them commercially accessible and powerful. However, the costs for its acquisition remained high .
Inventions of the second generation of computers
Physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley , who, knowing the properties of the silicone found in quartz stones, after years of research finally conceived the transistor .
The term transistor derives from the combination of the English words transfer resistor ( transfer resistance), and is an electronic device, semiconductor with multiple functions such as amplifying, oscillating, switching or rectifying. Its original components were very simple. Each of them was soldered on top of a circuit board that served to connect to other individual components.
They contained a semi-conductive material that could change its electrical state when pulsed. In its normal state, the semi-conductor was not conductive, but when a certain voltage was applied to it, it became conductive and electric current flowed through it. In computers, they functioned as an electronic switch or bridge.
The creation of the transistor made possible a new generation of computers, faster and considerably smaller and, in addition, with less ventilation requirements. However, the cost was still high. Second-generation computers also used networks of magnetic cores instead of spinning drums for primary storage. These cores contained small rings of magnetic material, linked together, in which data and instructions could be stored.
Inventors of the second generation of computers
For their research on semiconductors and for their discoveries about the transistor effect, the physicist William Bradford Shockley (02/13/1910 – 08/12/1989), together with the fellow physicist Walter Houser Brattain (Amoy, China , 02/10 / 1902 – 10/13/1987), and the electrical engineer and physicist John Bardeen (Madison, United States 05/23/1908 – Boston, 01/30/1991), were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956.
Featured computers from the second generation of computers
In order to create the first flight simulator, the US Navy used second-generation computers. Some of the computers that were already built with transistors in this period were:
- IBM 1401
- Honeywell 800 and 5000 series
- UNIVAC M460
- The IBM 7090 and 7094
- NCR 315
- RCA 501 and 601
The Remington Rand UNIVAC LARC, and IBM Stretch (1961) supercomputers and many others are also built in this generation , constituting a competitive market with a boom in growth.