Technology Paper on Important Milestones in the Evolution of Computers

Important Milestones in the Evolution of Computers

Computers in terms of personal tablets, laptops, and desktop computers have turned out to be such significant components of daily living that it might be hard to recall of the period before their invention. In fact, computers as they are used and advanced in the contemporary times, are still reasonably new (Parikka 249-252). Though computers had technologically been in application from the time of abacus about 5000 years ago, contemporary computers have had an utmost and fundamental impact across the globe. The earliest digital computer came into being around 1944 under the name Mark I. The computer was employed just for computation, and its weight was about 5 tons. Regardless of its size and restricted capacity, it was the earliest of the numerous that kicked off considerable milestones in the evolution of computers. From one milestone to the other, computers have increasingly become more advanced and valuable.

First Generation Computers

The 1st generation computers had minimal similarity to the modern computers, either in appearance or operation. This earliest cohort of computers was developed from around 1940 to 1955 and was exceedingly huge (History and Evolution of Computers 10-16). The internal mechanism of the computers of the first generation was not sophisticated. Such early devices needed magnetic drums to act as memory while large vacuum tubes functioned as amplifiers and switches. The vacuum tubes were mostly accountable for the huge size of the computers and usually emitted immense quantities of heat. The first generation of computers released a lot of heat to the extent that they regularly overheated in spite of having large cooling systems. These computers as well utilized an extremely basic programming language, which is known as machine language. Moreover, they had the ability of just solving a single problem at a time. The operator was also forced to take a few days or at times weeks to fully prepare a given problem. While input was anchored in punched cards as well as paper tape, output was presented in the form of printouts. The first generation of computers was intricate to operate over and above utilizing a huge amount of electricity.

Second Generation Computers

The 2nd generation computers (which were developed from around 1955 to 1965) succeeded in doing away with the huge vacuum tubes, which were replaced by transistors. The input and output were akin to those of the first generation. The development of transistors enabled them to utilize a lesser amount of electricity in addition to releasing less heat (Parikka 250-254). The second generation computers also used an advanced core memory that they employed along with the magnetic storage. They were as well considerably quicker when judged against the previous generation. Furthermore, the 2nd generation computers were notably smaller in size than the first generation ones. Since the transistor was significantly better than the vacuum tube, it made the second generation computers cheaper to use, more reliable, and considerably energy-efficient. Although the transistor also released much heat that could at times result in the damage of the computer, it marked a great improvement from the vacuum tube.

Third Generation Computers

The period between 1965 and 1980 marked an era through which computers realized noteworthy change with respect to speed thanks to integrated circuits. Semiconductor chips coupled with the circuits occurred as a huge number of very small transistors piled on silicon chips (History and Evolution of Computers 12-15).  This did not just raise the speed of computers but as well enabled them to be more powerful, less expensive to operate, and smaller than those of the second generation. Additionally, in place of the printouts and punch cards used in the earlier systems, monitors, and keyboards could now permit the operator to interact with the computers.

Fourth Generation Computers

The greatest milestone in the evolution of computers happened from around 1980 to 2010. In the course of this period, technology advanced to a level where manufacturers packed a large number of transistors on one circuit chip, which was referred to as monolithic incorporated circuit expertise. It also presaged the development of the Intel 4004 chip that acted as the first microprocessor to be commercialized in 1971 over and above resulting in the dawn of the personal computer sector. By about 1975, personal computers, for instance, Altair 8800 were publicly accessible as kits that necessitated assembly. By the start of the 1980s, computers became assembled for use at home (Parikka 249-253). These included the first IBM computers and Apple II that made their entry into the market during this period. The creation of personal computers that could establish networks ultimately resulted in the generation of the Internet at around 1990. The 4th generation computers led to the establishment of even smaller computers that comprise of laptops and hand-held gadgets. Moreover, the graphical user interface was discovered during this era. Lastly, computer storage and memory underwent crucial advancement that ensured increased speed and storage capacity.


Computers, which exist in the form of tablets, laptops, and desktop computers are now major elements of daily tasks that it may be hard to remember the situation before their discovery. Advancement from a given milestone to the next has made computers progressively valuable and sophisticated.  Attributable to technological advancement, the most remarkable milestone in the development of computers was from 1971 to 2010.

Works Cited

History and Evolution of Computers, Accessed 10 Sep. 2017.

Parikka, Jussi. “History of Computers.” The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, vol. 1, no. 1, 2013, pp. 249-254, Accessed 10 Sep. 2017.