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Fourth Generation of Computer

Fourth Generation of Computer ( 1971 to present )

The microprocessor has resulted in the fourth generation computers being smaller and cheaper than their predecessors. The fourth generation computers are also portable and more reliable. They generate much lesser heat and require less maintenance compared to their predecessors. GUI and pointing devices facilitate easy use and learning on the computer. Networking has resulted in resource sharing and communication among different computers.

Hardware Technology

They use the Large Scale Integration (LSI) and the Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) technology. Thousands of transistors are integrated on a small silicon chip using LSI technology. VLSI allows hundreds of thousands of components to be integrated in a small chip. This era is marked by the development of microprocessor. Microprocessor is a chip containing millions of transistors and components, and, designed using LSI and VLSI technology.
This generation of computers gave rise to Personal Computer (PC). Semiconductor memory replaced the earlier magnetic core memory, resulting in fast random access to memory. Secondary storage device like magnetic disks became smaller in physical size and larger in capacity. The linking of computers is another key development of this era. The computers were linked to form networks that led to the emergence of the Internet. This generation also saw the development of pointing devices like mouse, and handheld devices.



Software Technology

Several new operating systems like the MS-DOS and MSWindows developed during this time. This generation of computers supported Graphical User Interface (GUI). GUI is a user-friendly interface that allows user to interact with the computer via menus and icons. High-level programming languages are used for the writing of programs.

Computing Characteristics

The computation time is in picoseconds.

Physical Appearance

They are smaller than the computers of the previous generation. Some can even fit into the palm of the hand.


They became widely available for commercial purposes. Personal computers became available to the home user.


» The Intel 4004 chip was the first microprocessor. The components of the computer like Central Processing Unit (CPU) and memory were located on a single chip. In 1981, IBM introduced the first computer for home use. In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh.

Fourth Generation Computer

Fourth Generation Computer

Advantages of Fourth Generation of Computer

» Smaller in size and much reliable.
» No cooling system required in many cases.
» Much faster computation.
» Portable and cheap.
» The heat generated was negligible.
» Totally general purpose computer.
» Cheapest among all generations
» All types of High level languages can be used in this type of computers
» Totally general purpose

Disadvantages of Fourth Generation of Computer

» Very advanced technology was required to fabricate to the ICs.
» The latest technology is required for manufacturing of Microprocessors.

Other Generation of compter are

  » First Generation of Computer (1940 to 1956): Using Vacuum Tubes
  » Second Generation of Computer (1956 to 1963): Using Transistors
  » Third Generation of Computer (1964 to 1971): Using Integrated Circuits
  » Fifth Generation of Computer (Present and Next): Using Artificial Intelligence