The third generation of computers was based on the Integrated Circuits which replaced the transistors in the second generation. The various advantages in the third generation of computer due to Integrated circuits were increased processing speed, less power consumption, less heat generation, reduced size of the system, greater storage capacity, portability, etc. Due to all these reasons the third generations of computers were an instant commercial success. Let’s discuss the features, advantages, and disadvantages of the third generation of computers in more detail.
Features of the Third Generation of computer
The time period of Second-generation computers is marked between 1955 to 1964, whereas the time period of the third generation of computers is between 1965 to 1974.
The transistors from the second generation were replaced by the integrated circuits in the third generation of computers.
The transistor was an electronic device that can act as a current amplifier and as an ON/OFF switch. The transistors were a landmark of technology and they replaced the vacuum tubes in the first generation of computers.
The Integrated Circuits (IC) replaced the transistor in the third generation, as the IC used lithography which can pattern the entire circuit onto the resulting chips, containing up to millions of individual transistors.
The Integrated Circuits can also pattern other components such as a resistor, capacitors, inductors, etc apart from transistors.
So, the Integrated Circuits eliminated the need for physical electronic components as they were equivalent to the lithography patterns that were drawn on the silicon boards of IC.
If the transistor required the size of a fingernail tip to sit on the circuitry in the second generation of the computer, then in the third generation of a computer the same transistor only required a grain of rice size to be imported on the chips.
The integrated circuits were invented by Jack Kilby in 1958 at Texas Instrument.
The first commercial computers based on Integrated Circuits were made by IBM, and this marked the beginning of the third generation of computers.
Technologies that marked the Generation of computers
Generation of Computer
Integrated Circuits (IC)
Types of Operating System in the third generation
In the third generation of computers, the types of operating systems used were Remote Processing, Time-Sharing, Real-Time, Multiprogramming Operating System.
Aside from the Multiprogramming Operating System, all other Operating Systems were introduced in the third generation of computers.
The various functions that each operating system provided were –
Remote Processing Operating System – this operating system introduced us to a client-server architecture. The instructions to be processed can be provided by one computer to another computer that has powerful processing capacity, and the result from processing will then be returned to the first computer.
Time-Sharing Operating System – In this operating system, the processor’s time is shared among multiple users simultaneously. Therefore Time-sharing operating systems enabled many people to use various terminals of the same mainframe computer system at the same time. The objective of the time-sharing operating system was to minimize the response time.
Real-Time Operating System – In this operating system, the time interval between the processing inputs and generating the result is so small that it appears to control the environment.
All of the above-operating systems were introduced in the third generation of computers. All these operating systems made computers applicable in various fields of studies, industries, etc.
Programming Language in the third generation of computer
The programming languages that were available in the third generation of the computer were FORTRAN – II to IV, COBOL, PASCAL, BASIC, ALGOL – 68, etc.
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 high-level language, and also high-level languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL came.
In the Third 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 third generation of computers has a great number of application software for their computers.
The third generation of computers is therefore also marked for their support of high-level language.
Human-Computer Interaction in the third 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.
Hardware Characteristics of Third Generation
The third generation of computers generated very less heat as compared to the second generation of computers. This is because of silicon, silicon is a semiconductor, and therefore with the help of the right impurities, the resistance of this material can be decreased.
Therefore because of less resistance, the heat production greatly reduced and so does the energy consumption and this was not possible in the second generation of computers which used metallic wires to connect electronic components.
The Size of the third generation computer was reduced because the electronic components were lithography patterns that were drawn on the silicon chips, and because of power reduction the power unit size also decreased.
The third generation of computers had faster processing because the chips can contain up to billions of transistors on the chips and this number of transistors contributed to the processing speed of the computers. Therefore the processing power reduced the computational speed from microseconds to nanoseconds.
Storage Methods in Third Generation
The mainframe computer in the second generation used Integrated Circuits but the other peripherals such as storage method were the same as that of the second generation of the computer, they used reel to reel tapes drives for long term data storage.
The minicomputer used smaller size reels than full-sized magnetic tape drives, the DECtape were popular in PDP-8 and PDP-11 computers.
Examples of the Third Generation of Computers
The various examples of the third generation of computers are
- IBM System/360
- UNIVAC 1108
- Honeywell 6180
- PDP-8/I ( An Integrated version of the popular PDP-8 which was the second generation)
Advantages of Third Generation Computer
- Integrated Circuits (IC) were used
- Computers were more reliable than previous generations
- The size of computers reduced
- Faster processing and less computational time
- Less Electricity Consumption
- Computers can support High-level Languages
- Increased Storage Capacity of Computer
- Increased Accuracy
- Less Failure Rate of Hardware
- Less prone to Programming Error
- More Versatile
- Less Maintenance required due to IC
Each Advantages are explained in detail in above headings under Features of Third Generation of Computer.
Disadvantages of Third Generation Computer
- Air Conditioning Required in the Mainframes but not in Minicomputers
- The Price of Computers very costly
- Integrated Circuits could not be repaired easily
- Integrated Circuits were very complicated and required specialized workers
- Sophisticated Technology required to manufacture Integrated Circuits