We can’t imagine a world without computers today. Everywhere that we see, computers offer efficiency in operations, quick transactions, and the ability to store unlimited data. Computers are in everyday things that we use. In smartphones, gadgets, toys, aircraft and so many others. In shopping malls, cinema theatres, gyms, restaurants, hotels, computers are everywhere. Desktop Personal Computers, laptops, tablets, are seen in every home. But computers, when they were first evolving, were not the same as they are today. It took years for them to evolve, and every decade saw improvements in computing technology. Let’s have a look at how computers developed through history and also what is the future.
First Generation Computers
Computers, in their initial stages, were broadly called First Generation Computers. The period between 1940 to 1956 was a period when computers were very big. They were so large, that they used to run on steam engines. Magnetic drums were used to store memory, and vacuum tubes were used as switches and amplifiers. These computers produced vast amounts of heat, and they heated up significantly in such a way that coolers were used to cool them down. These First-Generation Computers used machine language, which was a very basic programming language.
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Second Generation Computers
The period between 1956 to 1963 was a period when Second Generation Computers developed. Transistors started to be used instead of vacuum tubes and these computers also consumed less electricity. These computers produced less heat and were fast than the earlier computers. In addition to magnetic storage, these computers also relied on a core memory to store data. These computers were smaller in size and performed better than the previous computers.
Third Generation Computers
The computers that developed between 1964 to 1971 were a definite improvement in terms of speed and data storage. Even in size, they were far smaller than the earlier computers. Semiconductor chips or integrated circuits made these computers much faster. These computers first used the keyboards and the mouse to interact with the hardware and software of the computers.
Fourth Generation Computers
The period of 1971 to 2010 was the Fourth Generation Computers. Personal Computers or PCs such as Altair 8800 first came into the market. Although they had to be assembled before they could be used, these computers came with powerful processors. These were powered by circuit chips fitted with millions of transistors. As a result, the first really powerful chip that came was the Intel 4004 chip, which was a form of a microprocessor.
During the 70s and 80s, pre-assembled computers were developed for personal home use. Computers like the Commodore Pet and Apple II made their way into every home. The first IBM personal computer also developed during this period. But when these computers were connected to a network, it gave rise to the internet. Computers became less and less small, and hand-held devices came into being. Computer memory, data storage, improved vastly. This Fourth-Generation computer used Graphical User Interface (GUI) as a mode of visual interactivity.
Fifth Generation Computers
As computers technology advances with leaps and bounds, more and more improvements take place in computing technology. It is not yet time to define what the future of computers will look like. There is dynamic development that is happening at every stage of computer technology. At such a time when quantum technology, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology are making their way into the making of computers, this period will just give a peek into what the future will hold for computers and computing power.
Future of Computers
Computers of the future might develop the intelligence of their own. But still, it is the humans who will control them. The future scenario may surprisingly be so much different than it is today. Computers may not be seen at all. We can carry it within our skins. Perhaps they may even fit in our pockets, and we may also wear them like wristwatches.
As robotic systems are developing, so does computers that transcend deeper into our everyday lives and make it possible for us to lead a more luxurious life. But while that may seem too far a dream, it is not at all so far away. Developments in various fields of science, technology, and biotechnology have also substantially impacted computers.
The so-called Fifth Generation of Computers may be small and integrated with electronic systems in our house so that one computer controls all devices. It is already showing us signs and we see it in action today. The various technologies that may go into offering the computers of the future endless opportunities for the human race.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
We are not that far when we will be able to switch on the AC in your home or turn off the TV while sitting at a remote destination. That is what the Internet of Things (IoT) promises us. And that is what will drive future computers. The future may see computers connecting and communicating with each other in a way no one would have ever imagined.
The computer will start communicating and networking with physical devices such as cars, or heaters, or coffee makers. More advanced uses are also possible like oil rigs, airplanes, etc. When computers and devices are fitted with a piece of software, and both transmit data to each other, they become ‘intelligent’ enough to ‘think’ and act accordingly. Cities, schools, hospitals, may benefit from this mind-boggling connectivity between computers and things will get more efficient. The bicycle will start itself when it communicates with your watch. Or the oven will know when it is time to stop cooking. Homes will get smart. Internet of Things is a realistic future of computer technology.
Quantum computing will revolutionize computers in a truly remarkable way. This will apply principles of quantum mechanics and measure data, not in bits, but qubits. Quantum computing will redefine computers and offer them a limitless scope. Imagine a scientist experimenting virtually instead of using any solid physical materials. Or an engineer designing a car model without actually using any tools. When a computer is powered by quantum computing technology, it will use physical matter such as subatomic particles such as photons and electrons to carry out complex processing. Data will exist in multiple states and a computer will make billions of copies of a computation, which will also exist in different states. Quantum computing is the future of computers that will offer limitless possibilities for all.
Computers will not only get more powerful, but they will also get virtual. Offices and workspaces will get digital, in a way that they will offer users to use them virtually. Desktop Virtualization is a technology that will broaden the scope and make organizations connect their resources with others from a global perspective.
Desktop Virtualization, in the simplest sense, is a way to make the computer accessible from anywhere and by anybody. Remote users can log on to the computer from any corner of the earth and operate it virtually. Desktops will become virtual so that it gets connected to a network. Operating systems and applications will be located in a cloud server, and users can access it from anywhere. Any computer, laptop, smartphone, a tablet can get virtual and behave as a virtual desktop. This Desktop Virtualization technology pools resources get connected easily across so many platforms and make data more secure and safe.
Imagine swallowing a computer as if it were a medicine pill. Or, implanting a chip in our hands so that it can monitor our body for abnormal DNA cells. The possibility of such a scenario is not a work of fiction, but a reality that’s waiting to happen. Bio-computers will eventually be most helpful in the field of medicine and biotechnology.
Computers of the future will be smaller than a strand of hair and will be able to perform several billions of processes in a second. It will be a big boost to computers. When computers will have biological and organic elements that will run processes and be able to store data, such bio-computers will be more powerful than the microchips of today. Bio-computers will not just offer the tremendous processing power, it will be able to learn by themselves, and detect abnormalities and badly structured DNA. It will have so many applications in the future.
We are already seeing Ai (Artificial Intelligence) in action today in computers. But it is a constantly evolving technology that will make computers more ‘intelligent’. Ai will impact computers in a big way in the future. Industries, hospitals, services, manufacturing, education, farming, all will change so much when computers are powered by Artificial Intelligence. Computers will give automation a new meaning with Artificial Intelligence. Robots will be serving your dishes, cleaning your car, or making your home more secure. Computers of the future will have Artificial Intelligence embedded in their software. Not only will it offer automation with a single click, but also make machines and humans work more efficiently. Artificial Intelligence is the future of computers that will change the way we shop, make payments, manufacture goods, offer services, and in every facet of life.
The future of computing technology is dynamically evolving at every stage of scientific progress. But in the future, computers may use light to speed up processes at a lightning-fast speed. Photons could be harnessed and controlled with engineered particles. When these photons are used in computers to process information, it could be an event that will expand the very horizons of computing technology of the future. Light, being the fastest thing, known in the universe, can offer its powers to computers of the future. Optical computers may seem a far-off possibility, but scientists and technologists today are increasingly trying to find out ways of using them in future computers.
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Development is the common factor when we look at the history and future of computers through these years. It is this continuous development that has made it possible to use computers today. Development goes on still, and with breakthrough scientific discoveries and technological advancement, computers will also evolve into something spectacular. It is all a matter of time that we see computers make decisions themselves and help us in medical, education, commerce, business, and many other fields. It is like a never-ending growth that we as humans, can only hope to benefit from.