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Fourth Generation of Computers

Last Updated : 26 Sep, 2021
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By the time of the discovery of the computer through Charles Babbage, technology had advanced and superior in a completely vast manner. This development in technology and consequently the improvement of computer systems are grouped in numerous generations. Each generation of computer systems has a few vast alternates of their function and far greater benefit than the preceding generation of computer systems. So, it is often stated that a generation is regularly referred to as an alternate and development in the era. Basically, there are 5 generations of computer systems indexed under and they vary from each other in terms of architecture, occupying space, language, specification, function or operation performed, etc. Following is the list of computer generations:

1. First Generation of Computers(1940 – 1956): The duration from 1940-1956 changed into the duration of first-generation computer systems. They are essentially primarily based totally on vacuum tubes, and vacuum tubes are used because of the simple components for memory and circuitry for the CPU (Central Processing Unit). For example, UNIVAC-1 and ENIVAC.

2. Second Generation of Computers (1957 – 1963): This generation includes styles of gadgets transistors and magnetic core in the systems. For example, IBM 1401, IBM 1920, etc.

3. Third Generation of Computers(1964 – 1971): Computer circuits changed the usage of transistors within-side the third generation of computer systems. Integrated Circuits themselves include many transistors, capacitors, and resistors and because of this third-generation computer systems are smaller in size, efficient, and extra reliable. For example, CDC 1700, IBM-360 Series, etc.

4. Fourth Generation of Computers(1972 onward): VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated) Circuit or they’re additionally referred to as microprocessors are utilized in this generation. A microprocessor chip is made from hundreds of Integrated Circuits construct on a single silicon chip. The use of Personal Computer(PCs) elevated on this generation and First Personal Computer (PC) changed into advanced through IBM. For example, Apple, CRAY-1, etc.  

5. Fifth Generation of Computers(Present and Future): It is primarily based totally on Artificial intelligence (AI) software. Artificial intelligence describes the medium and manner of creating computer systems like people, the manner human thinks, the manner people act, etc. and that is a rising department and has all of the scopes for studies work too. For example, PARAM 10000, IBM notebooks, etc.

Fourth Generation Computers

After third-generation computers, which mostly utilized microprocessors, fourth-generation computers were released in 1972. VLSI technology, or Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits, was employed in these computers. As a result, they were dubbed microprocessors. A microprocessor is made up of thousands of integrated circuits that are assembled on a single chip known as a silicon chip. 

VLSI circuits contained about 5000 transistors on a very compact chip and could conduct a wide range of high-level activities and computations. Because these computers utilized VLSI technology, the fourth generation of computers had characteristics linked with the process of building an integrated circuit (IC) by merging numerous transistors into a single chip. Fourth-generation computers, For example, fourth-generation computers were more adaptable, had a larger primary storage capacity, were faster and more reliable, were portable, were very compact and small, and so on, thanks to the technology utilized to make them. As a result, these computers were small and only required a small amount of electricity to operate.

The corporation Intel was the first to build a microprocessor. A microprocessor with serial numbers is used in fourth-generation computers. The serial numbers show the computer’s functionality as well as its speed. This generation produced the first “personal computer,” or PC, developed by IBM.

Computers have gotten more popular in this age as they are sold at a lower cost. In addition, fourth-generation computers aided in the development of the personal computer (PC) revolution. All computers nowadays are based on microprocessor technology. Chips are not expensive to produce. Memory chips are utilized for dynamic RAM (random access memory), while processor chips are employed as a central CPU. In both types of chips, millions of transistors are used (Memory and processor chips). The chips, which integrate memory and CPU chips on a single silicon die, may be accessible in the future.

The integrated circuits technology, referred to as SSI at the time, could only hold about ten to twenty components (small-scale integration). With the advancement of advanced technology in the field of ICs, it became possible to put hundreds of components on a single chip, a process known as medium-scale integration (MSI). With time, it became possible to put more than 30,000 components on a single chip. The search for more advanced technology is still ongoing, with the goal of developing technology that can integrate millions of components on a single chip, a process known as a very-large-scale integration (VLSI).

The fourth-generation computers use LSI chip technology as their brain. With the use of this technology, it was feasible to create incredibly powerful computers that were also quite tiny. In the computer area, this resulted in a societal revolution. On a single ship, a computer circuit the size of a postage stamp was soon available. 

This generation of computers had the first “supercomputers” that could perform many calculations accurately also they used networking and higher and more complicated languages as their inputs like  C, C+, C++, DBASE, etc.


The fourth generation of computers contains five separate units and they are input, arithmetic and logic, memory, output, and control units. The physical location of the computer’s functional unit is depicted in the diagram below. Users enter data (digital information) into the unit using input devices such as a mouse, keyboard, microphone, and so on. The data is either processed or not based on the type of input.

Some fourth generation computers are STAR 1000, CRAY-X-MP(Super Computer), DEC 10, PDP 11, and CRAY-1

 Features of Fourth Generation Computers

Following are the features of fourth-generation computers:

  • Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits are used in a microprocessor-based system.
  • In this generation, microcomputers became the most affordable.
  • Handheld computers have grown in popularity and cost.
  • In this age, networking between systems was invented and became commonplace.
  • The quantity of memory and other storage devices available has expanded dramatically.
  • The outputs are now more consistent and precise.
  • The processing power, or speed, has skyrocketed.
  • With the expansion of storage systems’ capacity, huge programs began to be used.
  • Great advancements in hardware aided in the improvement of the screen, paper, and other output.
  • Multiple high-level languages, such as BASIC, PASCAL, COBOL, FORTRAN, and C, were developed in the fourth generation.

Advantages Fourth Generation of Computer

Following are some advantages of fourth-generation computers:

  • They were designed to be used for a wide range of purposes (general-purpose computers).
  • Smaller and more dependable than previous generations of computers.
  • There was very little heat generated.
  • In many circumstances, the fourth-generation computer does not require a cooling system.
  • Portable and less expensive than previous versions.
  • Computers from the fourth generation were significantly quicker than those from previous generations.
  • The Graphics User Interface (GUI) technology was used to provide users with better comfort. During this time, PCs became more inexpensive and widespread.
  • Repair time and maintenance costs are reduced.
  • They were also created with the intention of being used in commercial production.
  • In this form of computer, any type of high-level language can be employed.

Disadvantages of the Fourth Generation of Computer

Following are some disadvantages of fourth-generation computers:

  • The fabrication of the ICs necessitated the use of cutting-edge technologies (Integrated Circuits).
  • Only ICs can be made with a high-quality and reliable system or technology.
  • Microprocessors must be manufactured using cutting-edge technology, which necessitates the use of a cooler (fan).

Sample Questions

Question 1: What this counting machine is called developed by Charles Babbage known as the father of the computer?


Charles Babbage developed a counting machine called a difference engine.

Question 2: Why are second-generation computers are faster and cheaper in comparison of first generations computers? 


Second-generation computers basically used two types of devices which are transistors and magnetic cores. The magnetic core is used for memory storage.

Question 3: Which generation computers used integrated circuits?


The third generation computers were the enhanced version of second-generation computers they used integrated circuits.

Question 4: Which generation is based on the VLSI microprocessor?


The fourth generation support VLSI microprocessor. The timeline of fourth-generation: 1972-1990.

Question 5: In which generation time-sharing, real-time, networks, and distributed operating systems were used?


Fourth generation of computers uses time-sharing, real-time, networks, and distributed operating systems.

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