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First Generation Computers: Vacuum Tubes (1940-1956)

First Generation Computers: Vacuum Tubes (1940-1956)

First generation computers are characterized by the use of vacuum tube. A vacuum tube was a fragile glass device, which used filaments as a source of electronics. It could control and amplify electronic signals. These vacuum tubes were used for calculation as well as storage and control. The first general purpose programmable electronic computer was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), built by J. Presper Eckert and John V. Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania. The ENIAC was 30-50 feet long, weighed 30 tons, contained 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 registers, 10,000 capacitors and required 150,000 watts of electricity. First generation computers were too bulky in size which required large room for installation and they used to emit large The period, during which the evolution of computer took place, can be divided into five distinct phases known as generations of computers First generation computers are characterized by the use of vacuum tube 10 Basics of Computer Hardware amount of heat, so air-condition was must for the proper working of computers. Programs written in high level programming languages retranslated into assembly language or machine language by a compiler. Assembly language program retranslated into machine language by a program called an assembler (assembly language compiler).

Before ENIAC was finished, Von Neumann designed the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) with a memory to hold both a stored program as well as data. This enabled much faster operation since the computer had rapid access to both data and instructions. The other advantages of storing instruction were that computer could do logical decision internally. Eckert and Mauchly later developed what was arguably the first commercially successful computer, the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC),in 1952.

Examples: ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC-1

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