Advantages and Disadvantages of Second Generation Computer

In the second generation of the computers, the vacuum tubes were replaced by state-of-the-art transistors which were developed by Bell laboratories. The transistor was much of a better device as compared to vacuum tubes because the transistors used the concept of electron and proton efficiency or deficiency rather than depending on the mechanical parts of a bulb which not only overheated the complete entire circuits but also required day to day maintenance and malfunctioned easily.

When the transistors were developed, the idea for storing the data in the magnetic core was also introduced. Therefore this led to the development of the magnetic tape, a magnetic disc which was then widely used as auxiliary storage. The magnetic disk was a layer of iron oxide which made it possible for the data to be accessed directly. This increased the speed of computers accessing the data along with increased processing speed because of transistors.

Due to all of these reasons the second generation of the computer became a viable commercial product and which was used by the businessman in applications such as building payroll processing and updating inventory.

Advantages of 2nd generation of computer [ second generation computers ] 

  1. When the vacuum tubes were replaced by a far superior transistor it allowed the computer to become smaller cheaper faster and more energy-efficient as well as reliable and hence it can become a commercially viable product, therefore, the business started offering for the computer to be used in day to day work
  2. A significant increase in the processing capacity of the computer from the result of using transistors.
  3. The heat that was generated by the vacuum tubes was eliminated as the transistor did not work on the method of cathode and anode which required generation of heat and electricity and hence the requirement of the air conditioning room was also eliminated.
  4. The computer became less expensive, the first generation of the computers because that did not require maintenance and the transistor can work for a long period as well as it did not malfunction because of the heating that was produced which also increased its precision and accuracy.
  5. The size of the computers in the second generation reduced quite significantly because the vacuum tubes were up to the size of a bulb and there were around 70 to 80 thousand words in a room which required a completely dedicated vacuum tube therefore the transistor was only fingernails size, therefore, it reduced the computer size drastically.
  6. The second generation of computers also introduced us to a higher-level programming language such as COBOL and FORTRAN rather than dealing with coding in Bits and bytes in the first generation of computers.
  7. With the increase in the processing capability of the computer the input and the output function speed also increased and the system of memory card programming was replaced by command-line programming.
  8. The main storage capacity of the computers also increased as the computers now used magnetic cores as the primary internal storage medium.

Disadvantages of 2nd generation of computer [ second generation computers ] 

  1. The cooling system was required in the second generation of computers.
  2. Constant maintenance was required.
  3. The computers were only programmed for specific tasks.

Each Advantages & Disadvantage are justified and explained in detail under the Characteristics of Second Generation of Computer.


Characteristics of Second Generation of computer

Technology Used in Second Generation

The time period of First generation computers is marked between 1946-1959, whereas the time period of the second generation of computers is between 1955 to 1964. 

The vacuum tubes from the first generation were replaced by the transistors in the second generation of computers. 

The Vacuum tubes were electrical devices that act as ON/OFF switches or an amplifier. Vacuum tubes contain electrodes to control the flow of electrons. These vacuum tubes were used in the early computers. Later on these vacuum tubes were replaced by the transistors in the second generation.

Transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch the electronic signals ON/OFF. The transistors are the building block of the modern computer. 

The transistor contains three terminals for connection to the external circuit. The voltage is applied through one pair of the terminals and the current is controlled through another pair. 

The transistors were cheaper and consumed less power. They were more compact in size and reliable than first generation vacuum tubes

Technologies that marked the Generation of computers 

Generation of Computer Technology 
First generation Vacuum tubes
Second Generation Transistors
Third Generation Integrated Circuits (IC)
Fourth Generation Microprocessor
Fifth Generation Artificial Intelligence 


Hardware Characteristics of second Generation

The second generation of computers generated very less heat as compared to the first generation of computers. This is because of the transistor, unlike vacuum tubes which get overheated due to high electrical demands. Transistors were electrical devices whose resistances can be changed according to the need therefore the electrical flow can be controlled. 

Therefore because of less resistance, the heat production greatly reduced and so does the energy consumption and this was not possible in the first generation of computers which used electrical bulbs with high resistance.

The Size of the second generation computer was reduced because the transistors were nearly the size of the fingernail tips, and because of power reduction the power unit size also decreased.   


Storage Methods in second Generation 

In the second generation of computer, the magnetic cores were used and they also acted as the primary memory of the computer and the magnetic tape and magnetic disk acted as the secondary memory.


Types of Operating System in the second generation

In the second generation of computers, the types of operating systems used were Batch Processing and Multiprogramming Operating System.  

The various functions that each operating system provided were – 

Batch Processing Operating System – In this operating system the user does not interact directly with the computer system. Instead, the user has to prepare their task to be performed on the computer system beforehand such programs on punch cards and then submit these punch cards to the computer operator. To speed the process these jobs were batched up and processed as a group. 

Multiprogramming Operating System – when two or more programs reside in the memory at the same time then it is referred to as a multiprogramming operating system. The multiprogramming operating system increases the CPU utilization by sharing the processor with different programs. In this operating system the CPU does not sit idle as it was in the batch processing operating system.


Programming Language in the second generation of computer

In the first generation of computers, machine language was only used and they were in the form of binary codes.  

In the Second Generation of Computer, the assembly language replaced the machine language, and also high-level languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL came.

In the second Generation of Computer actual development in the high-level programming language was seen. 

The High-Level Programming Language made programming to be a lot easier than before and therefore many independent programmers started writing their software and application, therefore the second generation of computers has a great number of application software for their computers. 

The second generation of computers is therefore also marked for their support of high-level language.

 Human-Computer Interaction in the second generation

In the second generation of computers, the computer system was dependent on the punch cards for input. 

If any programmer has to give instructions to the computer then they would have to code them into punch cards and then insert them into computers.

For this reason, the second generation of computers did not gain much popularity because of the tedious method of human-computer interaction.  

In the third generation of computers, keyboards and monitors replaced the punch card mechanism

So, if the programmer has to give instructions to the computer then he will simply type them from the keyboard and it will appear on the monitor. 

This encouraged many people to learn computer programming and develop their software.


Examples of the second Generation of Computers

The various examples of the second generation of computers are

  1. IBM 1620
  2. IBM 7094
  3. CDC 1604
  4. CDC 3600
  5. UNIVAC 1108


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