First Generation of Computer:
In the First Generation of Computer, a vacuum tube was used. A vacuum tube was a fragile glass device, which used filaments as a source of electronics and could control and amplify electronic signals. In First Generation of Computer vacuum was the only high-speed electronic switching device available in those days.
These vacuum tube computers could perform computations in milliseconds and were referred to as the first-generation computer.
The memory of these computers used electromagnetic relays, and all data and instruction were fed into the system from punched cards.
The instructions were written in machine and assembly languages because high-level programming languages were introduced much later.
Since machine and assembly language are very difficult to work with, only a few specialists understood how to program these early computers.
Characteristic of First-Generation computers:
The characteristics of the first generation computer are as follows:
- They were the fastest calculating devices of their time.
- They were too bulky in size, requiring large rooms for installation.
- They used thousands of vacuum tubes that emitted a large amount of heat and burnt out frequently. Hence, the room/areas in which these computers were located had to be properly air-conditioned.
- Each vacuum tube consumed about half a watt of power. Since a computer typically used more than ten thousand vacuum tubes, the power consumption of these computers was very high.
- As vacuum tubes used filaments. They had a limited life. Because a computer used thousands of vacuum tubes, these computers were prone to frequent hardware failures.
- Due to the low mean time between failures, these computers required constant maintenance.
- In these computers, thousands of individuals components were assembled manually by hand into an electronic circuit. Hence, commercial production of these computers was difficult and costly.
- Since these computers were difficult to program and use, they had limited commercial use.
Summary of First-Generation of Computer
Key hardware Technologies
Vacuum tubes, electromagnetic relay memory, punched cards secondary storage
Key Software Technologies
Machine and assembly languages, storage program concept, mostly scientific applications
Bulky in size, high unreliable, limited commercial use, commercial production difficult and costly, difficult to use.
Some Representative Systems
Images of First Generation Computer
Codd's 12 Rules For the Relational database