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Second Generation of Computers

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  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 06 Jun, 2021

By the time of the invention of the computer by Charles Babbage, technology had evolved and advanced in a very significant manner. This advancement in technology and the development of computers is grouped in different generations. Each generation of computers has some significant change in their feature and much more advantage than the previous generation of computers. So, it can be said that a generation can be referred as an change and advancement in technology. Basically there are five generations of computers listed below and they differ from each other in terms of architecture, occupying space , language, specification , function or operation performed, etc.

1. First Generation of Computers(1940 – 1956): The period from 1940-1956 was the period of first-generation computers. They are basically based on vacuum tubes, and vacuum tubes are used as the basic components for memory and circuitry for CPU (Central Processing Unit). For e.g., UNIVAC-1 And ENIVAC

2. Second Generation of Computers (1957 – 1963): The second generation of computers consists of two types of devices transistors and magnetic core. For e.g., IBM 1401, IBM 1920, etc.

3. Third Generation of Computers(1964 – 1971): Jack Kilby invented the Integrated Circuit. This Integrated Circuit replaced the use of transistors in the third generation of computers. Integrated Circuits itself consists of many transistors, capacitors, and resistors and due to this third-generation computers are smaller in size, efficient, and more reliable. For e.g., CDC 1700, IBM-360 Series, etc.

4. Fourth Generation of Computers(1972 onward): VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated) Circuit or they are also known as microprocessors are used in Fourth generation computers. Microprocessor chip is made up of thousands of Integrated Circuits build on a single silicon chip. The use of Personal Computer(PCs) increased in this generation and First Personal Computer (PC) was developed by IBM. For e.g., Apple, CRAY-1, etc. 

5. Fifth Generation of Computers(Present and Future): It is based on Artificial intelligence (AI) software. Artificial intelligence describes the medium and way of making computers like humans, the way human think, the way humans act, etc. and this is an emerging branch and has all the scopes for research work too. For e.g., PARAM 10000, IBM notebooks, etc.

Now we will discuss the second generation in detail:

Second Generation Of Computers

The second generation computers were used during 1957-1963. They are also known as transistor computers. The second generation of computers consists of two types of devices, transistors, and magnetic core. The transistors helped to develop a better computer than the first generation computers consisting of vacuum tubes. Some second generation of computers are IBM 1920, IBM 7094, CDC 1604, CDC 3600, IBM 1401, etc.

Characteristics of the second generation of computer are:

  • Smaller in size: The Second generation of computers are much more smaller in size than the first generation computers.
  • Change in circuits: The main change is the use of transistors in place of vacuum tubes( Vacuum tubes are used in first generation of computers).
  • Power/ Energy Requirement: The second generation of computers requires less amount of energy (i.e. electricity) compared to the first generation of computers and produces less heat than the first-generation computer.
  • Language used: Assembly language is used instead of Machine Language(used in first-generation computers) for programming in computers.
  • Speed: Calculation of data could be done in microseconds.
  • Cost: The cost of Second-generation computers is reduced in comparison to first-generation computers.

Advantages of second-generation computers:

  • They are smaller in size as compare to the first generation.
  • It is more reliable 
  • Uses less power and generates less heat.
  • The speed of the second generation is faster as compared to the first generation.
  • Second generation computers have improved accuracy and offer better portability.

Disadvantages of second-generation computers:

  • As we know, that they generate less heat but still require a cooling system.
  • They require frequent maintenance.
  • The commercial production of second generation computers is difficult.
  • They are used only for some specific purpose.
  • They use punch cards for input.

Difference between First Generation Computers and Second Generation Computers

First Generation ComputersSecond Generation Computers
First generation computers use vacuum tubes.Second generation computers use transistors.
The size of first generation computers is huge.The size of second generation computers is small.
It uses more power and produces more heat.It uses less power and produces less heat.
Its speed is slow.Its speed is high.
First generation computers use machine languageSecond generation computers use assembly language.
In first generation computers, the main memory is in the form of magnetic drums.In second generation computers, the main memory is in the form of RAM and ROM.

Sample Problems

Question 1: Which of the following replaced Vacuum tubes in second generation computers?

(A) Transmitter

(B) Integrated Circuit

(C) Transistor

(D) None of the above


The correct option is C, i.e., Transistor

Question 2: Which language is used for programming in second generation computers?

(A) Machine language

(B) Assembly language

(C) C/C++



The correct option is B, i.e., Assembly language

Question 3: Who invented the computer?

(A) Charles Babbage

(B) Jack Kilby 

(C) Charles Kilby

(D) None of the above


The correct option is A,i.e., Charles Babbage

Question 4: Which of the following are the advantages of transistors over vacuum tubes?

(A) low cost 

(B) reduced heat dissipation problem 

(C) low weight

(D) All of the above


The correct option is D, i.e., All of the above

Because, the cost of second generation computers are reduced in comparison to first generation computers. Also, the second generation of computers requires less amount of energy ( i.e. electricity ) compared to the first generation of computers and produce less heat than first generation computer.

Question 5: What was the duration or period of the second generation of computers?

(A) 1940-1956

(B) 1964-1971

(C) 1957-1963

(D) 1971- Present


The correct option is C, i.e., 1957-1963

Question 6: In Second Generation, the calculation can be done in __________?

(A) nanoseconds

(B) picoseconds

(C) microsecond

(D) none of the above


The correct option is C, i.e., microsecond

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