Evolution of Computer Hardware

  • First Generation: Vacuum Tubes 1946-1958

    First Generation: Vacuum Tubes 1946-1958
    *Sir Frederick Williams and Tom Kilburn co-invented the Williams-Kilburn Tube (vacume tube).
    *The Williams Tube provided the first large amount of random access memory (RAM), and it was a convenient method of data-storage.
    *Vacuum tubes were invented the same time the light bulb was invented and worked very similar to light bulbs.
  • First Generation continued...

    First Generation continued...
    *Purpose was to act like an amplifier and a switch.

    *Without any moving parts, vacuum tubes could take very weak signals and make the signal stronger (amplify it).

    *Vacuum tubes could also stop and start the flow of electricity instantly (switch).

    * Vacuum tubes became the dominant form of computer memory until outdated by core memory in 1955.
  • First Generation: Vacuume tube continued...

    First Generation: Vacuume tube continued...
    • Vacuum tubes were extremely high in price.
    • Alot of tubes were needed, so they took up a tremendous amount of space in the first computers.
    • Thanks to the invention of the vacuum tube, the first computer program was run on June 21, 1948
  • First Generation: Vacuume Tube

    First Generation: Vacuume Tube
  • Period: to

    Four Generations of Computer Hardware

  • Second Generation: Transistors 1959-1964

    Second Generation: Transistors 1959-1964
    • In 1947 three scientists, John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain working at AT&T's Bell Labs invented what would replace the vacuum tube forever.

    • This invention was the transistor which functions like a vacuum tube in that it can be used to relay and switch electronic signals.
  • Second Generation continued...

    Second Generation continued...
    *The transistor was the first device designed to act as both a transmitter, converting sound waves into electronic waves, and resistor, controlling electronic current.
    *By replacing bulky and unreliable vacuum tubes with transistors, computers could now perform the same functions, using less power and space.
  • Second Generation continued...

    Second Generation continued...
    *These transistors were made of solid material, some of which is silicon, an abundant element (second only to oxygen) found in beach sand and glass. Therefore they were very cheap to produce.

    *Their use marked a new beginning for the computer. Without this invention, space travel in the 1960's would not have been possible.
  • Second Generation: Transistors continued...

    Second Generation: Transistors continued...
    • The transistor was faster, more reliable, smaller, and much cheaper to build than a vacuum tube.

    • One transistor replaced the equivalent of 40 vacuum tubes.
  • Third Generation: Integrated Circuits 1965-1970

    Third Generation: Integrated Circuits 1965-1970
    *The integrated circuit, or as it is sometimes referred to as semiconductor chip, packs a huge number of transistors onto a single wafer of silicon.
    *Robert Noyce of Fairchild Corporation and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments independently discovered the amazing attributes of integrated circuits.
  • Third Generation continued...

    Third Generation continued...
    • Placing such large numbers of transistors on a single chip vastly increased the power of a single computer and lowered its cost considerably.
    • Since the invention of integrated circuits, the number of transistors that can be placed on a single chip has doubled every two years, shrinking both the size and cost of computers even further and further enhancing its power (Moore's Law).
  • Third Generation: Integrated Circuits...

    Third Generation: Integrated Circuits...
    *integrated circuit placed the previously separated transistors, resistors, capacitors and all the connecting wiring onto a single crystal (or 'chip') made of semiconductor material.
  • Third Generation: Integrated Circuits

    Third Generation: Integrated Circuits
    • These third generation computers could carry out instructions in billionths of a second.
    • The size of these machines dropped to the size of small file cabinets.
  • Fourth Generation: Microprocessor 1971-today

    Fourth Generation: Microprocessor 1971-today
    • This generation can be characterized by both the jump to monolithic integrated circuits(millions of transistors put onto one integrated circuit chip).
    • Also the invention of the microprocessor (a single chip that could do all the processing of a full-scale computer). \
  • Fourth Generation: Microprocessor

    Fourth Generation: Microprocessor
    • The microprocessor was invented by Intel engineers Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor.
    • After the invention of integrated circuits revolutionized computer design, the only place to go was down -- in size that is!
    • The microprocessor chip took the integrated circuit down one step further by placing all the parts that made a computer think (central processing unit, memory, input and output controls) on one small chip.
    • The Chip was only the size of a pencil earser.
  • Fourth Generation: Microprocessor continued...

    Fourth Generation: Microprocessor continued...
    • The microprocessor worked so well beacuse it put millions of transistors onto one single chip which meant more calculations and faster speeds could be reached by computers.
    • Also because electricity travels about a foot in a billionth of a second, the smaller the distance the greater the speed of computers.
  • Fourth Generation: Microprocessor continued

    Fourth Generation: Microprocessor continued
    • Thanks to the invention of the microprocessor it led to the invention of the personal computer.