The computers manufactured and used during the period 1971 – Present are called Fourth Generation Computers. All modern day computers are Fourth Generation Computers. All of us are using Fourth Generation Computers for our day-to-day activities. With the improvement in the IC (Integrated Circuit), the size of the computers started to go down. Invention of VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) squeezed hundreds of thousands of components onto a single chip, where as the ULSI (Ultra-large Scale Integration) increased that number into the millions by the year 1980. Advancement in technology makes Fourth generation computers cheaper in price and best in quality than all other generation of computers.
In 1971, Intel developed a chip known as “The Intel 4004 chip”, took the IC one step further by locating all the components of a computer (memory, central processing unit, and input and output controls) on a minuscule chip. Whereas the IC used in previous computer generations, the IC had had to be manufactured to serve a special purpose, now a single microprocessor could be manufactured & then programmed to meet any number of demands. Soon everyday household items such as Televisions, Music Systems, Washing Machines, Micro Ovens, and Automobiles incorporated microprocessors.
The Personal Computers (PC) were introduced by IBM in 1981 for using in Home, Office and Schools. In 1980, there was a rapid increase in the usage of personal computers in Home, Office and schools and clones of IBM personal computers made the PC even more affordable. More and more companies started working to make computers to more smaller size, working their way down from desktop to laptop computers to palmtop. In 1984, Apple’s Macintosh was introduced which was a competitor of IBM’s personal computers. Recently there are a lot of modifications and many more awesome features are implemented to personal computers by different companies. Even though a lot of changes occurred for the computers of 2010, it’s still regarded as the Fourth Generation of Computers.
Characteristics of Fourth Generation Computers
- Fourth generation computers are microprocessor – based systems.
- Fourth generation computers are very small.
- Fourth Generation computers are the cheapest among all other computer generations.
- Fourth generation computers are portable and quite reliable.
- Fourth generation computers do not require air conditioning since they generate negligible amount of heat.
- Minimum maintenance is required for Fourth generation computers since hardware failure is negligible for them.
- The production cost of Fourth generation computers is very low
- GUI and pointing devices enables users to learn to use the computer quickly.
- Interconnections of computers leads to better communication and resource sharing.
- Fourth generation computers are very powerful than previous generations and can easily do more calculation or can run more programs at a time and for more hours.