We cannot thank technology enough to have made our lives easier than ever. We spend a major portion of our day in front of our laptop/desktop screens. It is the means to earn daily bread and butter for a major portion of the population around the globe. Hence, it is important to be aware of the history of these crucial devices.
We talked about the first generation of computers earlier, but that was just the beginning of a revolution. After almost a decade of development, the second generation of computers came into the picture. Overcoming many disadvantages like speed and size, the second generation of computers quickly made their place in the market.
Let’s talk about the second generation of computers a bit more in detail now.
What is the Second Generation of Computer?
The second generation computers, also known as the transistor computers, belong to the years from 1956 to 1963. They came into existence a decade after the first-generation computers. They successfully overcame many drawbacks and quickly replaced them.
Their development began in the 1950s. They made use of the latest and improved technology of that time. They replaced the inefficient vacuum tubes with transistors as the main electronic component. This gave the second-generation computers an edge over the first-generation.
They also made use of assembly language and high-level languages like COBOL and FORTRAN. This provided ease of programming and scope of development. They utilized batch processing operating system combined with multiprogramming making them more efficient. Furthermore, they used magnetic cores for primary memory. Magnetic tapes and disks were used for storage.
What are Transistors?
Transistors are essentially semiconductor devices made of silicon or germanium. They control the power and voltage flow. They are also used to amplify or switch electrical signals. They are more reliable and smaller than the vacuum tubes. Hence, making themselves the core component of the second generation of computers. Not only modern computers, but transistors revolutionized the development of electronic devices.
Some of the Second Generation of Computer
The second of the UNIVAC 1100 series, UNIVAC 1108 was introduced in 1964. It was a notable model for second-generation computers. It was developed by the Sperry Corporation (later known as Unisys). Its architecture was focused on a 36-bit word length. It was suitable for complex scientific calculations as well as general-purpose data processing as well.
The UNIVAC 1108 was a high-performance and versatile computer from the second generation of computers. It marked the developments made till now and paved a path for continued evolution.
An advanced version of IBM 7090, IBM 7094 was introduced in the year 1962. It was a high-performance computer of the second generation series. It supported both fixed-point and floating-point operations making it versatile for diverse mathematical calculations.
IBM 7094 was fast, reliable, and supported a wide range of applications. It was a huge success in the market which stabilized IBM’s market position. It provided a stepping stone for IBM to reach the top of the computer manufacturing market of that era. It also led to further development marking the progress toward the third generation of computers.
Technology Used in the Second Generation of Computer
- Transistors are used in place of Vacuum tubes as basic technology.
- They were programmed using assembly language and high-level languages like COBOL and FORTRAN.
- They work on batch-processing operating systems with improved throughput and multiprogramming.
- They used magnetic cores as the primary memory source.
- They used magnetic tapes and disks for secondary memory storage.
- Punch cards were continued for input.
- Printouts using paper tapes were continued as the mode of output.
Advantages of Second Generation of Computer
- They were smaller in size as compared to the first-generation computers.
- They were more efficient and reliable.
- They generated less amount of heat and hence required fewer cooling systems.
- They were portable due to their smaller size.
- They weighed much less than the first-generation computers.
- Their computation speed was faster.
- They performed computation in microseconds.
- They were relatively cheaper.
- They had less hardware failure and maintenance costs were reduced.
Disadvantages of Second Generation of Computer
- A large number of cooling systems were still required.
- They required continuous maintenance for proper functioning.
- They could only be used for particular objectives and not commercially.
- The use of punch cards for input made them somewhat slow.
- Even though they were cheaper than first-generation computers, they were still costly.
- They consumed a significant amount of electricity.
Marking massive development, the second generation of computers represented an era of progress, development, and improvement. They marked the significance of the development. They laid the foundation for coming generations, leading to continuous evolution which led to computers as we know them today. We must acknowledge the stepping stones that led to the modern era we live in.