The Development of the Personal Computer

In 1952, a major computing company took a decision to get out of the business of making mainframe computers. They believed that there was only a market for four mainframes in the whole world. That company was IBM. The following year they reversed their decision.

In 1980, IBM decided that there was market for 250,000 PCs, so they set up a special team to develop the first IBM PC. It went on sale in 1981 and set a world-wide standard for IBM- compatibility which, over the next ten years, was only seriously challenged by another company, Apple Computers. Since then, over seventy million PCs made by IBM and other manufactures have been sold. Over this period, PCs have become commodity items.

The history of the multi-billion dollar PC industry has been one of mistakes. Xerox Corporation funded the initial research on personal computers in their Palo Alto laboratory in California. However, the company failed to capitalize on this work, and the ideas that they put together went into the operating system developed for Apples computers. This was a graphical interface: using a mouse, the user clicks on icons which represent the function to be performed.

The first IBM PC was developed using existing available electrical components. With IBMs badge on the box it became the standard machine for large corporations to purchase. When IBM were looking for an operating system, they went initially to Digital Research, who were market leaders in command-based operating systems (these are operating systems in which the users type in commands to perform a function). When the collaboration between IBM and Digital Research failed, IBM turned to Bill Gates, then 25 years old, to write their operating system.

Bill Gates founded Microsoft on the basis of the development of MS/DOS, the initial operating system for the IBM PC. Digital Research have continued to develop their operating system, DR/DOS, and it is considered by many people to be a better product than Microsofts. However, without an endorsement from IBM, it has become a minor player in the market.

Module II

Computer Evolution

Unit 1

Text Study: Computer Evolution.

Additional Text: From the History of the Computers.

Grammar: The Present Continuous Tense.

Text Study

I. Pre-reading Exercises

1. Repeat the words in chorus:

An abacus, to arrange, a wheel, an engine, the forerunner, binary, bulky, unreliable, thousands, frequently, a core, to squeeze, due to, to etch, launched, fibre.

2. While reading the text you will come across a number of international words. Try to guess what Ukrainian words they remind of you:

Calculations, mechanical, programmer, automatically, generation, silicon, integrated, plastic, metal, standard, graphical, optics, experts, molecules.

3. Pay attention to some grammatical points:

1) The abacus emergedin Asia. 2) It allowed people to make calculations usingmoving beads arranged on a rack. 3) Charles Babbage started to build his Analytical Engine. 4) Konrad Zuse built the first programmable computer, calledZ3, workingon the binary system. 5) Second generation computers were able to reduce computational time from milliseconds to microseconds, or millionths of seconds. 6) Second-generation computers were smaller, faster and more reliable than first-generation computers. 7) Memories were made of magnetizable cores. 8) The integrated circuits that are being developed have been greatly reduced in size.

II. Reading

Read the text and be ready to find in the text the answers to the following questions:

What generations of a computer are given in the text?

What are the characteristic features of the fifth generation?

Computer Evolution

2000 BC (before Christ) The abacus emerged in Asia. It allowed people to make calculations using moving beads arranged on a rack. 1642 Blaise Pascal invented the first mechanical adding machine, a numerical wheel called Pascaline.

1833 Charles Babbage started to build his Analytical Engine, the forerunner of the modern computer. He was helped by Augusta Ada Byron, who is considered the first female computer programmer. 1890 Herman Hollerith used punch cards in a device which automatically read the US census.

1941 Konrad Zuse built the first programmable computer, called Z3, working on the binary system.

First generation computers (1945-1954) The University of Pennsylvania designed ENIAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer), an electronic computer which used vacuum tubes and was able to calculate at electronic speeds. Those devices were not only bulky, they were also unreliable. The thousands of vacuum tubes emitted large amounts of heat and burned out frequently.

Second generation computers (1955-1964) Computers used transistors instead of vacuum tubes. So-called second generation computers, which used large numbers of transistors were able to reduce computational time from milliseconds to microseconds, or millionths of seconds. Second-generation computers were smaller, faster and more reliable than first-generation computers. Memories were made of magnetizable cores (the IBM 1401).

Third generation computers (1965-1973) The first computers using silicon chips went on sale. Intel released the first microprocessor. They could perform many data processing operations in nanoseconds, which are billionths of seconds.

Fourth generation computers (1974 -2001) Computers became smaller as more components were squeezed onto microchips. The integrated circuits that are being developed have been greatly reduced in size. This is due to microminiaturization, which means that the circuits are much smaller than before; as many as 100 tiny circuits are placed now on a single chip. A chip is a square or rectangular piece of silicon, usually from 1/10 to 1/4 inch, upon which several layers of an integrated circuit are etched or imprinted, after which the circuit is encapsulated in plastic or metal.

1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft and wrote a BASIC compiler for the Altair.

1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer, Inc. The first minicomputer was sold.

1981 IBM sold the IBM PC, a model that became the standard in personal computers. MS-DOS was the operating system for IBM PCs and compatibles.

1984 Apple produced the Macintosh, the first computer with a mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI).

1995 Microsoft launched Windows 95 and Sun Microsystems created Java language.

2001 Intel launched the Pentium 4 running at 2G Hz.

Fifth generation computers Fibre optics and optical disks revolutionize the world of computers. Artificial Intelligence and voice recognition are incorporated into computer applications; experts start making tiny, superfast computers known as nanocomputers. Some are electronics, others are biochemical, working with bio - chips made of millions of molecules.

Vocabulary Notes

an abacus ['xbqkqs]

to emerge [I'mWdZ] ,

a bead [bJd] ,

rack ,

census ['sensqs] ,

vacuum tubes['vxkjuqm 'tjub]

bulky ['bAlkI] , ᒺ,

unreliable ['nrI'laiqbl]

a core [kL]

to release [rI'lJz] ,

to squeeze [skwJz] ,



to encapsulate

to reduce


to etch [etS] , ( , )

to imprint ,

to launch [lLntS] ,

fibre['faIbq] ,

incorporate 璺, ,


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