The First Generation Of Computers Essay Research

The First Generation Of Computers Essay, Research Paper

The First Generation of Computers

The first generation of computers, beginning around the end of World War 2,

and continuing until around the year 1957, included computers that used vacuum

tubes, drum memories, and programming in machine code. Computers at that time

where mammoth machines that did not have the power our present day desktop


In 1950, the first real-time, interactive computer was completed by a

design team at MIT. The “Whirlwind Computer,” as it was called, was a revamped

U.S. Navy project for developing an aircraft simulator. The Whirlwind used a

cathode ray tube and a light gun to provide interactively. The Whirlwind was

linked to a series of radars and could identify unfriendly aircraft and direct

interceptor fighters to their projected locations. It was to be the prototype

for a network of computers and radar sites (SAGE) acting as an important element

of U.S. air defense for a quarter-century after 1958.

In 1951, the first commercially-available computer was delivered to the

Bureau of the Census by the Eckert Mauchly Computer Corporation. The UNIVAC

(Universal Automatic Computer) was the first computer which was not a one-of-a-

kind laboratory instrument. The UNIVAC became a household word in 1952 when it

was used on a televised newscast to project the winner of the Eisenhower-

Stevenson presidential race with stunning accuracy. That same year Maurice V.

Wilkes (developer of EDSAC) laid the foundation for the concepts of

microprogramming, which was to become the guide for computer design and


In 1954, the first general-purpose computer to be completely

transistorized was built at Bell Laboratories. TRADIC (Transistorized Airborne

Digital Computer) held 800 transistors and bettered its predecessors by

functioning well aboard airplanes.

In 1956, the first system for storing files to be accessed randomly was

completed. The RAMAC (Random-Access Method for Accounting and Control) 305

could access any of 50 magnetic disks. It was capable of storing 5 million

characters, within a second. In 1962, the concept was expanded with research in

replaceable disk packs.


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