Computers are such an integral part of our society that it is sometimes difficult to
Imagine life without them. However, computers as we know them are relatively new devices. In fact, the first electronic computers were built just over fifty years ago. Since that time, the technology has advanced at an astounding rate, with the capacity and speed of computers approximately doubling every two years. Today, pocket calculators have many times the memory capacity and processing power of the mammoth computers of the 50's and 60's. The abacus, which emerged about 5,000 years ago in Asia is still in use today, may be considered the first computer. This device allows users to make computations using a system of sliding beads arranged on a rack. In 1642, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the 18-year-old son of a French tax collector, invented what he called a numerical wheel calculator to help his father with his duties. The history of computers can be divided into generations, roughly defined by technological advances, which led to improvements in design, efficiency, and ease of use.
First Generation Computers (1945-1956)- As the Second World War was about to start, governments sought to develop computers to exploit their potential strategic importance and to help them develop new computerized weapons and new technology. This increased funding for computer development projects.
Second Generation Computers (1956-1963) - In 1948, transistors were developed which greatly changed the development of computers. The transistor replaced the large, cumbersome vacuum tube in televisions, radios and computers. As a result, the size of electronic machinery has been shrinking ever since resulting in the creation of new small computers with new transistors and new technology.
Third Generation Computers (1964-1971) - Though transistors were clearly an improvement over the vacuum tube, they still generated a great deal of heat, wh