Fourth Generation of Computers

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The fourth generation of computers represented a significant milestone in the evolution of computing technology. It was characterized by the introduction of microprocessors and the widespread use of integrated circuits. Starting in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s, this era witnessed the development of smaller, more efficient and more powerful computers. These advancements allowed for the execution of complex tasks at unprecedented speeds. The emergence of microprocessors completely transformed the computing landscape, leading to a boom in personal computers and laying the foundation for today’s digital revolution.

Fourth Generation Computers

Following the era of third generation computers that primarily relied on microprocessors, fourth generation computers emerged in 1972. These computers utilized Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits, earning them the nickname “microprocessors.”
Fourth Generation Of Computers
Fourth Generation Of Computers
During the fourth generation of computers, VLSI circuits revolutionized the field by integrating around 5000 transistors onto a single, compact chip. This advancement allowed these computers to perform a wide range of high level activities and computations. The utilization of VLSI technology enabled the construction of integrated circuits (ICs) by merging multiple transistors into one chip.
These fourth generation computers boasted several characteristics that made them stand out. They were highly adaptable, offering larger primary storage capacities and faster, more reliable performance. Moreover, they were portable and remarkably compact due to the technology employed in their creation. As a result, these computers consumed minimal electricity while maintaining their small size.
Intel Corporation played a key role in this era as they pioneered the development of microprocessors. These microprocessors were equipped with unique serial numbers that indicated the computer’s functionality and speed. Notably, IBM introduced the first “personal computer” (PC) during this generation.


The advent of fourth generation computers also contributed to making computers more accessible and affordable for everyday consumers. This development played a significant role in fueling the personal computer revolution we witness today. Nowadays, all computers are built upon microprocessor technology, which has become cost effective for mass production.
Memory chips are used for dynamic RAM (random access memory), while processor chips serve as the central CPU. Both types of chips contain millions of transistors (memory and processor chips). It is possible that in the future, there may be chips available that combine memory and CPU on a single silicon die.
The fourth generation of computers consists of five distinct units; input, arithmetic and logic, memory, output and control units. The diagram below illustrates the physical arrangement of these functional units within the computer. Users input digital data into the unit using devices like a mouse, keyboard or microphone. Depending on the type of input, the data is either processed or left as is.
Some examples of fourth generation computers include STAR 1000, CRAY X MP (a supercomputer), DEC 10, PDP 11 and CRAY 1.

Features of Fourth Generation Computers;

  1. Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits are utilized in microprocessor based systems.
  2. Microcomputers have become more affordable during this generation.
  3. Handheld computers have gained popularity while becoming more cost effective.
  4. Networking between systems was invented and became widespread during this era.
  5. The availability of memory and storage devices has significantly increased.
  6. Output results are now more consistent and precise.
  7. Processing power has experienced a remarkable surge in speed.
  8. With expanded storage capacity in place, large scale programs started to be used.

Advantages Fourth Generation of Computer

The advancements in hardware have greatly contributed to the improvement of various output mediums such as screens and paper. During the fourth generation, multiple high level programming languages like BASIC, PASCAL, COBOL, FORTRAN and C were developed. The fourth generation computers offered several advantages;
They were designed to serve a wide range of purposes as general purpose computers.
Compared to previous generations, these computers were smaller in size and more reliable.
They generated minimal heat, often eliminating the need for a cooling system in many cases.
The fourth generation of computers brought about portable and more affordable options compared to previous versions. These computers were notably faster than their predecessors, thanks to advancements in technology. The introduction of Graphics User Interface (GUI) technology improved user comfort and made PCs more accessible and affordable for a wider audience. As a result, repair time and maintenance costs were reduced. Additionally, these computers were designed with commercial production in mind, making them suitable for various industries. They also offered the flexibility of using any high level programming language. 

Disadvantages of the Fourth Generation of Computer

there were some drawbacks to the fourth generation of computers. The fabrication of Integrated Circuits (ICs) required cutting edge technologies, limiting their production to high quality and reliable systems or technologies. Moreover, microprocessors needed advanced cooling mechanisms due to the use of cutting edge technology during manufacturing processes.


In conclusion, we can see that the fourth generation of computers exemplifies how technological innovation can be truly transformative. The integration of microprocessors and integrated circuits during this era revolutionized the computing industry by making computers more accessible, powerful and versatile than ever before. These advancements laid down a strong foundation for our modern digital age, enabling us to develop personal computers, gaming consoles and various other electronic devices that have become integral parts of our daily lives. Reflecting on this fourth generation reminds us of how remarkable progress can be achieved within a relatively short span of time – a testament to human ingenuity and creativity that knows no bounds.

Additional FAQ : 

1.What are the fourth generation techniques?
When it comes to software development methodologies, the fourth generation technique (4GT) focuses on optimizing the process by utilizing high level programming languages and automated tools. By leveraging these techniques, developers can enhance productivity while reducing both time and costs associated with software development.
2.Who was responsible for inventing the fourth generation computer?
 The microprocessor, which was a groundbreaking invention during this era, was created by Marcian Edward “Ted” Hoff, Jr. While he was working at Intel, a company co founded by Robert Noyce.
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