First Generation Vs Second Generation Computers: 12 Major Differences

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The generation in computers is used to refer to the change in or state of technology a computer is or was being used. In the early 1950s the term generation was used to describe the various changing aspects of hardware technologies. Today, in the world of computers, the term generation describes both hardware and software, which are two important aspects that make up the entire computer system.

There are generally, five computers generations each varying from the other in different aspects of technology. Each one of the five generation of computers is characterized by a major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate.

First Generation Of Computers

The main feature of the first generation of computers is that they used Vacuum tubes as the basic component for memory and circuitry for Central processing unit (CPU). These tubes, like electric bulbs produced a lot of heat and the installations used to fuse frequently.

Examples of First Generation computers were:

  • ENIAC
  • EDVAC
  • IBM-650
  • IBM-701
  • UNIVAC

What You Need To Know About First Generation Of Computers

  • The period of the first generation was from 1946-1959.
  • Vacuum tubes were used as the basic component for memory and circuitry for CPU.
  • The size of the computer was very large and was referred to as mainframe.
  • They were low speed computers.
  • The main memory was in the form of magnetic drum.
  • Magnetic tape. Paper tape, punch cards were used as input and output devices.
  • The computers in this generation used machine code as the programming language.
  • The computers were very expensive and only large organizations were able to afford it.
  • The input and output devices were slow.
  • They required AC (alternating current) power for operation
  • Consumed a lot of electricity
  • They generated a lot of heat.

Second Generation Of Computers

The second generation of computers heralds the use of transistors instead of vacuum tubes. The transistors were smaller than vacuum tubes and allowed computers to be smaller in size, faster in speed and cheaper to build.

Examples of second generation computers were:

  • UNIVAC 1108
  • CDC 3600
  • IBM 7094
  • IBM 1620
  • CDC1604

What You Need To Know About Second Generation Of Computers

  • The period of second generation computers was 1959-1965.
  • Transistors were used as an internal component. These transistors were cheaper, more compact and consumed less power.
  • The size of the computer was smaller when compared the first generation computers and was referred to as mini-computer.
  • They averagely 10 times faster than the first generation computers.
  • Main memory was in the form of RAM and ROM.
  • In this generation, magnetic cores were used as primary memory and magnetic tape and magnetic discs as secondary storage devices.
  • In this generation, assembly language and high-level programming languages like FORTRAN and COBOL were used.
  • The input and output devices were relatively faster when compared to the input and output devices of the first generation of computers.
  • This generation of computers was still very expensive; however it was cheaper when compared to the first generation of computers.
  • They also required AC (alternating current) power for operation.
  • They consumed less electricity as compared to the first generation computers.
  • They generated less amount of heat when compared to the first generation computers.

Also Read: Difference Between Input And Output Device

Difference First Generation And Second Generation Computers In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON FIRST GENERATION SECOND GENERATION
Period Of Operation The period of second generation computers was 1959-1965.   The period of second generation computers was 1959-1965.  
Main Component Vacuum tubes were used as the basic component for memory and circuitry for CPU.   Transistors were used as an internal component. These transistors were cheaper, more compact and consumed less power.  
Size The size of the computer was very large and was referred to as mainframe.   The size of the computer was smaller when compared the first generation computers and was referred to as mini-computer.  
Speed They were low speed computers.   They averagely 10 times faster than the first generation computers.  
Main Memory The main memory was in the form of magnetic drum.   Main memory was in the form of RAM and ROM.  
Magnetic Tape And Other Components Magnetic tape. Paper tape, punch cards were used as input and output devices.   In this generation, magnetic cores were used as primary memory and magnetic tape and magnetic discs as secondary storage devices.  
Programming Language The computers in this generation used machine code as the programming language.   In this generation, assembly language and high-level programming languages like FORTRAN and COBOL were used.  
Input & Output Devices The input and output devices were slow.   The input and output devices were relatively faster when compared to the input and output devices of the first generation of computers.  
Cost The computers were very expensive and only large organizations were able to afford it.   This generation of computers was still very expensive; however it was cheaper when compared to the first generation of computers.  
Current They required AC (alternating current) power for operation   They also required AC (alternating current) power for operation.  
Power Consumption Consumed a lot of electricity   They consumed less electricity as compared to the first generation computers.  
Heat Generation They generated a lot of heat They generated less amount of heat when compared to the first generation computers.