On asking evolutionary invention till date, anybody will list smartphone, mag-lev train, internet etc. No doubt they are, but today we are going to glance a ‘concept’ in technology instead of product or service which brought evolution. The concept is Miniaturization. It is defined as trend to manufacture smaller mechanical, optical and electronic devices. In simple language it is downsizing.
Today computer branches like IT, CS, AI and ML are at peak. Logic gates, flip-flops, Finite State Machines serves as memory, decision making and algorithmic hardware. Most importantly we can’t code in air; we require hardware therefore according to me electronics is backbone of computer branches. Let’s have a look how it helped in miniaturization of computer.
History of Computers
Today computers are performing unimaginable and smart tasks. Earliest computer devices were the machines that perform mathematical operations. Almost computers were counting devices then. Abacus calculator was manual computer. Later on they got modified into mechanical devices like billing machine, slot machine. Even electronic computer used to work on same principle but on voltage and current instead of mechanical parts.
First Generation of computers (1940) : It consisted vacuum tubes as function unit and magnetic drums for memory.It was a groundbreaking invention. Despite having good usage in radio and communication vacuum tubes were bulky, unreliable and energy consuming. The first computer was ENIAC. It consisted total 18,000 tubes and was size of tennis court. Moreover it weighed 30 tons and consumed daily electricity of 15 houses, in one hour.
Foundation of Miniaturization (1950) : Due to invention of transistors in 1947, concept of miniaturization triggered the technology. It has small size, non heating and durable nature. Furthermore it was compact. As a result the huge tennis court structure got miniaturized into a few feet one. Second generation of computers was launched in 1956. We call them transistor computers.
Next Generations of Computers:
Third generation computers (1965): In this phase silicon chips replaced transistors. As a result efficiency and speed increased a lot in computers. Users interacted using keyboards and monitors for the first time. It had a proper operating system.This enabled these machines to run several applications at a time. Again electronics played a vital role. Consequently computers became smaller and cheaper after this stage of miniaturization.
- Fourth generation computers (1972): Users witnessed microprocessors in these computers. As soon as we read microprocessors, a word strikes in our mind.. Intel!! Intel launched first microprocessor in 1971. Due to this CPU, memory units, input,output positioned on a single chip. IBM launched its first computer in 1981 for NASA and other government institutes. Apple launched first domestic computer MacIntosh in 1984 for common man. Due to single chip fbrication, companies started competing for better GUIs. In simpler words after achieving stability in efficiency and processing, they tried to attain beauty in computers. Osbrone launched first handheld computer. It seems like electronics played well here also to attain miniaturization.
Fifth generation of computers is ULSI. It includes artificial intelligence, machine learning. All this require nominal hardware. We’ll soon encounter a quantum computer. As a result we’ll witness the fastest and most secured for communication.
On the conclusion part, We’re now far from the giant computers. Whenever I Look at my smartphone and imagine a 30 ton giant computer besides it; I realize that miniaturization is not just a concept that evolved the world, it is a power of human brain conscience consisting fire, intelligence, hard work, determination and belief which enabled human race to perform same task with less hardware with more efficiency by saving time.
We just understood miniaturization considering example of computers. We may find many examples and realize the power of miniaturization if we’ll start to observe surroundings and stop looking.
all images’ courtesy: Google
A multihobbyist engineer who is research enthusiast; likes to read, write and loves to play Sitar.