The Continuing Story of the
Computer Age:
Past, Present, and Future
• Describe the generations of computer design leading
up to the present
• Describe the story of personal computer development
• Explain the underlying concepts and terms of artificial
• Explain the fundamentals of expert systems, robotics,
and virtual reality
• Give examples of the impact these fields have on
business and everyday life
• The Computer Age
• The First Generation
• The Second Generation
• The Third Generation
• The Fourth Generation
• The Fifth Generation
The Computer Age
• Rapid changes
• Four generations over 50 years
• Trends across generations
– Decrease size
– Increase speed
The First Generation
• 1951-1958
• Vacuum Tube
– Heat
– Burnout
– Machine language
• Magnetic core
• Storage
– Punched cards
– Tape (1957)
Universal Automatic Computer
First computer built for business.
The Second Generation
• 1959-1964
• Transistor
No warm-up time
Less energy
Less heat
More reliable
• Storage
– Removable disk
pack (1954)
– Magnetic tape
• Programming
– Assembly language
– FORTRAN (1954)
– COBOL(1959)
Used primarily by business, university, government
The Third Generation
• 1965-1970
• Family of computers
• Integrated Circuit
• Software
– Electronic circuit on
small silicon chip
– Reliability
– Compactness
– Low cost
– Inexpensive – massproduced
– Upward compatibility
– Unbundled software
– Several programs
share computer’s
– Interactive
The Fourth Generation
• 1971-Present
• Microprocessor
– General-purpose processor on a chip
• Explosive growth
Digital watches
Pocket calculators
Personal computers
Copy machines
Television sets
Personal Computer History
Apple (1975)
• Home use
• Keyboard
• Screen
• VisiCalc spreadsheet software
Personal Computer History
IBM (1981)
Became industry standard
Improved keyboard
80-character screen
Add memory
Expansion slots
Encouraged hardware and software
development by others
• Nonproprietary parts
• Clones
Personal Computer History
• Wintel
– Microsoft supplies operating system for PC
• Windows
– Intel supplies microprocessor
• Continually challenged – others making
Personal Computer History
The Internet Revolution
• Started as ARPANet – a network of
computers that could survive a nuclear
• Attractive to the average user
– Links
– Graphical browser
The Fifth Generation
• Mid 1990’s
• Intelligent computers
– Artificial intelligence
– Expert systems
– Natural language
The Fifth Generation
AI – Artificial Intelligence
• How computers can be used for tasks
that required human characteristics
• How to make computers do things that
people currently do better
• Evolving science
The Fifth Generation
AI – How Computers Learn
• Improve performance based on past errors
• Knowledge base – set of facts and rules
• Inference engine – applies rules to the facts
to create new facts
• Example
Created Fact:
Amy is Ken’s wife
If X is Y’s wife, then Y is X’s husband
Ken is Amy’s husband
The Fifth Generation
Data Mining
• Extracting previously unknown
information from existing data
– Relationships
– Trends
• Look for hidden information that cannot
be found because of the size of the
The Fifth Generation
Natural Language
• Humans communicate with computers
in the language they use on a daily
• Ambiguities of natural language
The Fifth Generation
Expert Systems
• Software used with an extensive set of
organized data that presents the computer as
an expert on a particular topic
• User
– Knowledge seeker
– Asks questions in English-like format
• Computer responds with an answer and
The Fifth Generation
Building an Expert System
Expert system shell
Software that contains the basic structure
used to find answers to questions
Build knowledge base
Knowledge engineer writes rules
The Fifth Generation
• Computer-controlled device that can
physically manipulate its surroundings
• Primarily found in factories
• Field robots
– Dangerous work
– “Dirty” jobs
The Fifth Generation
VR – Virtual Reality
• Engage a user in a computer-created
– User physically interacts with computer-created
– Immersion – user becomes absorbed in the VR
• How it works
– Alters perceptions
– Appeals to several senses at once
– Presents images that respond immediately to
users movements
The Fifth Generation
VR – Virtual Reality
• The future of VR
– Virtual showroom
– Try new medical procedures on simulated
• Problem
– Simulator sickness
– Costs

The Continuing Story of the Computer Age: Past, Present