Technological progress is often quantified and identified with the terminology “generation”. Every year the product development process improves, this is considered a generation. With each new generation of computer, the motherboard and silicon footprint shrinks, while speed, power, and memory increase.
Progression of computers
Computers have come a long way since the first generation of circuit vacuum tubes and magnetic memory drums. The first generation computer used assembly programming or high-level programming languages to execute instructions for the user. These early computers required a lot of electricity to run and also generated a lot of heat that was difficult to displace.
The second generation replaced vacuum tubes with transistors, which are a major component of microprocessors today. Transistors were invented in 1947 at Bell Laboratories. These devices are preferable to vacuum tubes, which emit a significant amount of heat and slow processing time.
Transistors opened the door to faster processing. The latest microprocessors contain tens of millions of microscopic transistors. Without the transistor, we would not have the same level of computing power that we have today.
The transistor was invented in 1947, but did not find widespread use in computers until the late 1950s. The transistor was much better than the vacuum tube. This allowed computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy efficient and more reliable than their first generation predecessors.
The third generation computer includes integrated circuits. These circuits are often called semiconductors, because of the substrate used to design the circuit. Semiconductors dramatically increased the speed and efficiency of the computer. Semiconductors also reduced the overall footprint of the computer. As semiconductor packages get smaller, designers produce smaller laptops and desktops. Minimalist designers and chiropractors rejoiced at the reduction in weight and size.
The fourth generation marks the production of computers as we know them today. Microprocessors were introduced in this generation of computers. Computer processing speeds increase exponentially as the computer’s “brain” masters complex calculations. This generation of computers allowed manufacturers to lower the price to make computers affordable for the common household. However, computers were not yet as cost-effective as they are today.
The fifth generation computer added artificial intelligence to the computer to improve the speed and efficiency of advanced calculations and graphic displays. Gaming, expert systems, natural language, neural networks, and robotics were all capabilities of the fifth generation computer.
Neural networks were particularly important in this generation of computers. The computer can mimic actual neural synapses in the human body. These complex mathematical models were processed with ease by the fifth generation computer. However, scientists still needed more computing power to achieve advanced robotics and other language computing.
The sixth generation computer
Not only does the technology improve, but the price also decreases as the technology improves. The sixth generation of computers gave users the ability to have more power in a smaller footprint. The sixth generation also introduced voice recognition. The improved technology allows the computer to take dictation and recognize words. Computers have the ability to learn through various advanced algorithms.
The use of nanotechnology is characteristic of sixth generation computers. This greatly increases computer processing time and helps users. Computers with multiple processors can perform complex calculations and multitask. When a CPU can perform several tasks at once, it is considered multitasking.
When qubits, or quantum bits, perform calculations, it is usually faster than conventional computers. This technology works in conjunction with the computer’s processor and memory. Complex languages such as English, Chinese, French and Spanish are easily processed using qubits or quantum bits. Computers can now understand and interpret multiple languages with the new advanced technology available.
This new advancement will allow students and people with disabilities to speak commands into the computer without touching the physical device. Voice recognition is also useful in laboratory clean rooms, surgical operating rooms or even customer service use. Voice recognition will greatly improve a scientist’s ability to create new technologies.
Voice-controlled games and typing apps are easy with sixth-generation apps. Avid gamers will watch video games in incredible detail with realistic motion. Parallel processing allows higher speeds for video games. As the semiconductor footprint becomes smaller through the use of nanotechnology, the user has more flexibility in using the computer.
The sixth generation took advanced computing to a new level with voice recognition. Users can only imagine what the seventh generation of computers will bring. Users will look forward to these new improvements as they develop.