The second generation of computers was introduced in 1956 to 1964 and it mainly used transistors as the major internal components. A transistor is a device that regulates current or the flow of voltage. It is made up of semi- conductors materials mostly silicon that makes the transistors less sensitive to temperature such that they cannot burn up.
It contains three terminals output, input and a controlling switch. The size of a transistor is slightly smaller than the vacuum tubes that were used in the first generation computers. It was invented in the Bell Labs in 1947. The major scientists in the creation of transistors were: William Shockely, John Barden and William Brattain. The transistors replaced the vacuum tubes because the vacuum tubes generated too much heat and for several times they proved to be very unreliable. The transistors were a major advantage to the second generation computers this is because:
1.The computers were fast
2.They were cheaper
3.They were more energy efficient
4.They were more reliable compared to the first generation of computers.
The second generation computers changed from a binary machine to symbolic where programmers are allowed to specify instructions in words. The high level languages that they introduced in the second generation computers were: COBOL, ALGOL, FORTRAN and BASIC. The high level language made the computers store information in the memory for the first time as compared to the first generation computers.
The major features of the second generation computers are:
1.They use transistors which replaced the vacuum tubes
2.They are faster as compared to the first generation computers
3.They are very expensive
4.They are small in size than the first generation computers
5.They generate less heat
6.They consume less electricity
The main second generation computers included:
1.UNIVAC 1107– It was made by Sperry Rand in 1962. It was quiet and very massive. It had a central processor of 36 bit which was able to do arithmetic equations in microseconds. It was also able to print 600 lines per minute. The memory time was 8 microseconds per word.
2.CDC computers– it was designed by Seymour Cray. The first CDC was the CDC 1604 that was delivered in 1960 to the US Navy. Later on the CDC 3000 series succeeded the CDC 1604.
3.IBM 7000– it was invented in the 1950s- 1960s. They were mainly used for large scale and technological applications. They were very compatible compared to the IBM 700 series because they used transistors. They supported the languages COBOL, FORTAN and MERGE. They had a high input and output speed.
The major advantages of the second generation computers were:
1.The accuracy was very high
2.It was portable to any place
3.The speed was high and could calculate data very fast
4.They used less energy
5.They were reliable at any time
6.They used assembly language
The disadvantages of the second generation computers included:
1.It required a cooling system
2.It was very costly
3.It was mainly used for specific purposes
4.It required frequent maintenance
5.It was difficult for commercial production
The major differences between the first generation computers and the second generation computers include:
1.In the first generation computers they used the vacuum tubes while in the second generation they used the transistors as the internal component.
2.In the first generation computers the computers were very big while in the second generation they were smaller and were also called mini computers.
3.The first generation computers used machine language while the second generation used the assembly language.
4.The first generation computers used the punched card while the second generation used the magnetic tape.
5.The first generation computers had a low speed while the second generation speed was ten times faster.
6.The first generation computers had the main memory in form of magnetic drum while the second generation had the main memory in form of ROM and RAM.
7.The first generation computers consumed a lot of power while the second generation consumed less electrical power.
8.The first generation computers speed was measured in milliseconds while the second generation the speed was measured in microseconds.
9.The first generation computers had low accuracy and was not reliable while the second generation was very accurate and reliable.
The second generation computers was an upgrade of the first generation computers.