Technology advancements are often quantified and identified by the terminology "generation." Each year, the product development process improves, this is deemed a generation. With each new generation of computer, the motherboard and silicon footprint decreases and the speed, power and memory power increases.
Progression of Computers
Computers have come a long way since the first generation vacuum tubes for circuitry and memory magnetic drums. The first generation computer utilized assembly language programming or high level programming languages to execute instructions for the user. These early computers required a lot of electricity to operate and also generated a lot of heat that was difficult to displace.
The second generation replaced the vacuum tubes with transistors, which were a primary component of microprocessors today. Transistors were invented in 1947 in Bell Laboratories. These devices were preferable to vacuum tubes that emitted a significant amount of heat and slowed processing times.
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 see widespread use in computers until the late 50s. The transistor was far superior to 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 involved integrated circuits. These circuits are often referred to as semiconductors, because of the substrate used to design the circuit. Semiconductors dramatically increased the speed and efficiency of the computer. Semiconductors also decreased the overall footprint of the computer. As the semiconductor packages become smaller, designers produced smaller laptops and desktop computers. Minimalist designers and chiropractors rejoiced with the weight and size reduction.
The fourth generation marked the production of computers as we know them today. Microprocessors were introduced in this generation of computers. The computer processing speeds increased exponentially, as the "brain" of the computer mastered complex computations. This generation of computer allowed manufacturers to lower the price to make computers available to the common household. Computers, however, were still not as cost effective as they are today.
The fifth generation of computer added artificial intelligence to the computer to improve the speed and efficiency of advanced computations and graphic displays. Game playing, 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 computer. The computer could mimic actual neuron synapses in the human body. These complex mathematical models were handled with ease through the fifth generation computer. However, scientists still needed more computing power to accomplish advanced robotics and other language computations.
The Sixth Generation of Computer
Not only does the technology improve, but the price decreases as the technology improves. The sixth generation of computer provided consumers with the opportunity to have more power on a smaller footprint. The sixth generation also introduced voice recognition. Improved technology allows the computer to take dictation and recognize words. Computers have the ability to learn via a variety of advanced algorithms.
The use of nanotechnology is a characteristic of sixth generation computers. This significantly increases the processing time of the computer and help consumers. Computers with multiple CPUs can perform sophisticated calculations and multitask. When a single CPU can perform multiple tasks at once, this is considered multi-tasking.
When qubits or quantum bits process calculations, it is typically 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 with the use of qubits or quantum bits. Computers can now understand and interpret numerous languages with the new advanced technology available.
This new advancement will allow students and the disabled to speak commands into the computer without touching the physical device. Voice recognition is also helpful in laboratory clean rooms, surgical operating rooms or even use in customer service. Voice recognition will significantly enhance the scientist's ability to create new technology.
Voice controlled games and typing applications are easy with sixth generation applications. Avid gamers will view video games in incredible detail with life-like motion. Parallel processing enables faster speeds for video games. As the semiconductor footprint becomes smaller through the use of nanotechnology, the user has more flexibility in the use of the computer.
Sixth generation took advanced computing to a new level with voice recognition. Consumers can only imagine what the seventh generation of computer will bring. Consumers will look forward to these new advancements as they develop.