|History of Computer Generation 1 | Computer network|
With the onset of the Second World War, the countries involved in the war tried to develop computers to exploit the strategic potential of computers. This increased funding for computer development as well as accelerated advances in computer engineering. In 1941, Konrad Zuse, a German engineer built a computer, the Z3, to design airplanes and missiles.
The Allies also made other progress in the development of computer power. In 1943, the British completed a secret code-breaking computer called the Colossus to decode the secrets used by the Germans. The impact of making the Colossus did not greatly affect the development of the computer industry for two reasons. First, Colossus is not a general-purpose computer, it is only designed to crack secret codes. Second, the existence of this machine was kept secret until a decade after the war ended.
The efforts made by the Americans at that time resulted in another progress. Howard H. Aiken (1900-1973), a Harvard engineer who worked with IBM, succeeded in producing electronic calculators for the US Navy. The calculator is half the length of a football field and has a cable span of 500 miles. The Harvard-IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, or Mark I, is an electronic relay computer. It uses electromagnetic signals to drive mechanical components. The engine operates slowly (it takes 3-5 seconds for each calculation) and is inflexible (the order of calculations cannot be changed). The calculator can perform basic arithmetic calculations and more complex equations.
Another computer development today is the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), which was created by a collaboration between the United States government and the University of Pennsylvania. Consisting of 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 5 million solder points, the computer was a very large machine consuming 160kW of power.
This computer was designed by John Presper Eckert (1919-1995) and John W. Mauchly (1907-1980), the ENIAC is a general purpose computer that works 1000 times faster than the Mark I.
In the mid-1940s, John von Neumann (1903-1957) joined the University of Pennsylvania team in an effort to develop computer design concepts that would still be used in computer engineering for the next 40 years. Von Neumann designed the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) in 1945 with a memory to hold both programs and data. This technique allows the computer to stop at some point and then resume its work. The key to the von Neumann architecture is the central processing unit (CPU), which allows all computer functions to be coordinated through a single source. In 1951, UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer I) made by Remington Rand, became the first commercial computer to utilize the Von Neumann architectural model.
Both the United States Census Agency and General Electric own UNIVAC. One of the impressive results achieved by UNIVAC was its success in predicting the victory of Dwilight D. Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election.
The first generation computers were characterized by the fact that operating instructions were created specifically for a particular task. Each computer has a different binary code program called "machine language". This makes the computer difficult to program and limits its speed. Another characteristic of the first generation of computers was the use of vacuum tubes (which made computers at that time very large) and magnetic cylinders for data storage.