Second Generation of Computer | Examples, Advantages, Features

Second Generation of ComputerExplained

In 1947 the bipolar transistor was developed. Since 1955 vacuum tubes have been replaced by transistors in computer designs, leading to a computer’s ‘second generation.’

In this article, we will learn how the second generation came into existence, Technology used, and components of the second generation of computers.

What was invented in the Second Generation of Computers?

The second generation took place between 1959 and 1965. Transistors that are cheaper, consume less power, had been invented in this generation, that are more lightweight, more efficient, and faster than computers of first-generation that were made of vacuum tubes.

The primary memory and magnetic tape and magnet disks were used as secondary storage devices in this period.

The COBOL language and high programming languages such as FORTRAN have been used.

The computers also used batch processing and operating system multi-programming.

Advantages over First-Generation Computers

Transistors have many advantages as opposed to vacuum tubes:-

  • They have lower power and require lower power than vacuum tubes, meaning that less heat is produced.
  • Silicon junction transistors were much more robust than vacuum tubes and had a longer service life indefinitely.
  • Tens of Thousands of binary logic circuits may be contained inside a fairly compact space by a transistorized computer. Transistors reduced the size, initial expenses, and running costs of computers considerably.

The second-generation computers usually consist of large numbers of circuit boards, such as the IBM Standard Modular System, each with one or four logic gates or flip flops.

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Features of the Second Generation of Computers

The second generation features primarily include: −

  • Use of Transistors.
  • Reliable compared to computers of the first generation.
  • Smaller than computers of the first generation.
  • It generates less heat compared to computers of the first generation.
  • Electricity used is less when compared to computers of the first generation.
  • Faster.
  • The cost is high.
  • AC is required.
  • Supported machine language.

Why computers of the Second Generation came into existence?

In 1945-1956, computers of the first generation declared the first machines to use electronic valves (i.e. vacuum tubes).

The use of these valves made the computers extremely large because they contained thousands of wires.

The computers, therefore, used too much energy and generated too much heat as a result of many wires.

The excessive heat produced to lead the valves to blow quickly, making the process unreliable.

Every computer of the first generation was equipped with a specific binary coding program called machine language.

Transistors were invented in 1948 and the vacuum tubes in the first generation computers were removed from their production.

This allowed the transistor to be smaller, quicker, cheaper, more energy-efficient, and more stable than the first generation computers, vacuum tubes.

Technology Used In the Second Generation Computers


The name transistor comes from the ‘trans’ of transmitter and ‘sistor’ of the resistor, and the meaning of the whole term transistor is a device composed of semiconductor material that can both conduct and insulates (e.g. germanium and silicon).

The first transistors were designed to convert sound waves into electric waves and to regulate the electric current.

Electric circuits were made up of vacuum tubes before transistors.

Transistors had an immense influence on the architecture of the computer. Semiconductor transistors replaced vacuum tubes in computers.

Computers could now perform the same task, using less power and less space, by replacing these large and unreliable vacuum tubes with transistors.

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Examples of Second Generation of computers

Some of the examples of the second generation computers were −

  • IBM 1620
  • IBM 7094
  • CDC 1604
  • CDC 3600
  • UNIVAC 1108

The Second Generation of Computer Functionality

Computers of the second generation were made faster than the first computers to process information.

Computers of the first generation had a speed of 5mbps while computers of the second generation were 10mbps.

By it can be seen that computers of the second generation were twice as fast as computers of the first generation for information processing and operation.

The Programming language used in the Second Generation of Computers

Computers of the second generation have been programmed in Assembly language.

An assembly language has simple instructions like ADD, SUB, and LDA.

For the second generation computers, the assembly language was used in place of machine code for the first generation computers, which was simpler for the programmers to use and also for debugging.

While the programs have been written using the assembly language which is much easier for anyone to understand and user-friendly, the machines cannot understand this language because they understand ones and zeros.

In this generation, FORTRAN was introduced. Formula Translator stands for FORTRAN. This system was developed in the 1950s by John Backus for IBM.

This is the oldest language of a high standard. FORTRAN is still used today, particularly for scientific purposes.

FORTRAN IV and FORTRAN 77 had two variants. USASI approved FORTRAN IV while ANSI approved FORTRAN 77.

COBOL also was introduced in the second generation. COBOL stands for Common Business Oriented Language.

This language is the second oldest programming language but is still commonly used.

The COBOL language is wordy, but it is easy to grasp despite its wordiness. COBOL is popular for business applications.

Disadvantages of Second Generation of Computer

Some of the disadvantages of the second generation of computers were as follows –

  • It needs a cooling system.
  • Constant maintenance was required.
  • Commercial manufacturing was hard.
  • Used for particular purposes only.
  • Very costly
  • For input, Punch cards have been used.      

Many of the second generation computers have been used primarily by universities and public organizations.

It also increased the chances of their transistor technology. Such machines were much faster, less costly, more powerful, and processed than their previous machines.

In terms of use and data processing, the second generation computers have proven better.

They allowed data to be backed up with their tape storage so that future references are possible. They were both good for home use and commercial use.

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