8 julio, 2024

Third generation of computers: history, characteristics, hardware

What is the third generation of computers?

The third generation of computers refers to computer technology that was based on integrated circuits, which was used during the period between 1963 and 1974. Integrated circuits combined various electronic components, such as transistors and capacitors, among others.

Very small transistors were produced, being able to be arranged in a single semiconductor, causing the general performance of computer systems to improve dramatically.

These circuits outperformed vacuum tubes and transistors, both in terms of cost and performance. The cost of integrated circuits was very low. Therefore, the main characteristic feature of third generation computers was that integrated circuits began to be used as computing devices, which have continued to be used until the current generation.

The third generation was basically the turning point in the life of computers. Punched cards and printers were replaced by keyboards and monitors connected to an operating system.

At this time, computers became more accessible to the mass audience, due to their smaller size and more appropriate cost.

Moore’s Law

The implementation of these computers was also aligned with Moore’s Law, disclosed in 1965.

This law stated that because transistor size was shrinking so rapidly, for the next ten years the number of transistors that would fit on new microchips would double every two years. After ten years, in 1975 this exponential growth was readjusted to every five years.

During the third generation the processor was built using many integrated circuits. It was in the fourth generation that a complete processor could be located on a single silicon chip, the size of which was less than a postage stamp.

Today, almost all electronic devices use some type of integrated circuit placed on circuit boards.

Origin and history of the third generation

The transistors had been a vast improvement over vacuum tubes, but they still generated a lot of heat, causing damage to parts of the computer. This situation was resolved with the arrival of quartz.

The transistors were reduced in size to be placed on silicon semiconductors, also popularly called chips. In this way the transistors were replaced by the integrated circuit or chip. Scientists managed to put many components on a single chip.

As a result, the computer became smaller and smaller as more components were squeezed onto a single chip. They were also able to increase the speed and efficiency of third generation computers.

Integrated circuit

In the third generation the integrated circuit or microelectronics technology became the main hallmark.

Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor were the first to develop the idea of ​​the integrated circuit in 1959.

The integrated circuit is a single device that internally contains a large number of transistors, registers and capacitors, which are built on a single thin slice of silicon.

The first integrated circuit only contained six transistors. It becomes difficult to compare with the integrated circuits in use today, which contain up to hundreds of millions of transistors. An extraordinary development in less than half a century.

Therefore, it is undeniable that the size of the computer was getting smaller and smaller. The computers of this generation were small, low-cost, had large memory, and had very high processing speed.

Characteristics of the third generation of computers

These computers were highly reliable, fast, and accurate, with lower cost, although they were still relatively expensive. Not only was its size reduced, but the power requirement and heat generation.

Users could interact with the computer through keyboards and screen monitors for both data input and output, in addition to interacting with an operating system, achieving hardware and software integration.

The ability to communicate with other computers is achieved, advancing data communication.

Computers were used in the calculation of the census, as well as in military, banking and industrial applications.

Technology used

The transistors were replaced by the integrated circuit in their electronic circuits. The integrated circuit was a single component containing a large number of transistors.

Processing speed

Due to the use of integrated circuits, the performance of computers became faster and also more accurate.

Its speed was almost 10,000 times greater than that of the first generation of computers.


The memory capacity was greater and hundreds of thousands of characters could be stored, previously only tens of thousands. Semiconductor memory, such as RAM and ROM, was used as primary memory.

External disks were used as storage media, the nature of the data access was random, with a large storage capacity of millions of characters.

improved software

– High-level programming languages ​​continued to be developed. High level languages ​​such as FORTAN, BASIC and others are used to develop programs.

– Ability to do multiprocessing and multitasking. The ability to perform several operations simultaneously was developed, through the installation of multiprogramming.

3rd generation hardware

This generation ushered in the concept of the «family of computers,» which challenged manufacturers to create computer components that were compatible with other systems.

Interaction with computers improved remarkably. Video terminals for data output were introduced, thus replacing printers.

Keyboards were used for data entry, instead of having to print punch cards. New operating systems were introduced for automatic processing, as was multiple programming.

Regarding storage, for auxiliary terminals, magnetic disks began to replace magnetic tapes.

Integrated circuit

In this generation of computers, integrated circuits were used as the main electronic component. The development of integrated circuits gave rise to a new field of microelectronics.

The integrated circuit sought to solve the complex procedures used to design the transistor. Having to manually connect the capacitors and diodes to the transistors was time consuming and not totally reliable.

In addition to reducing cost, putting multiple transistors on a single chip greatly increased the speed and performance of any computer.

Integrated circuit components could be hybrid or monolithic. The hybrid integrated circuit is when the transistor and diode are placed separately, while the monolithic is when the transistor and diode are placed together on a single chip.

third generation software


Computers began to use operating system software to manage computer hardware and resources. This allowed systems to run different applications at the same time. In addition, remote processing operating systems were used.

IBM created the OS/360 operating system. Software growth was greatly improved due to being unbundled, with software being sold separately from hardware.

high level languages

Although assembly languages ​​had proven to be very helpful in programming, the search for better languages ​​that were closer to conventional English continued.

This made the common user quite familiar with the computer, being the main reason for the immense growth of the computer industry. These languages ​​were called high-level languages.

Third generation languages ​​were procedural in nature. Therefore, they are also known as procedural-oriented languages. Procedures require that it be known how a problem will be solved.

Each high-level language was developed to meet some basic requirements for a particular type of problem.

The different high-level languages ​​that a user could use were FORTRAN, COBOL, BASIC, PASCAL, PL-1, and many others.

Source program

The program written in a high-level language is called the source program. This is the element that the programmer puts into the computer in order to obtain results.

The source program must be converted to an object program, which is the language of 0s and 1s that the computer can understand. This is done by an intermediate program called a compiler. The compiler depends on both the language and the machine used.

Inventions and their authors

Integrated circuit

It is a circuit consisting of a large number of electronic components placed on a single silicon chip using a photolithographic process.

It was first designed in 1959 by Jack Kilby at Texas Instrument and by Robert Noyce at Fairchild Corporation, independently. It was an important invention in the field of computing.

Kilby built his integrated circuit on germanium, while Noyce built it on a silicon chip. The first integrated circuit was used in 1961.

IBM 360

IBM invented this computer in 1964. It was used for business and scientific purposes. IBM spent approximately $5 billion to develop System 360.

It was not just a new computer, but a new approach to computer design. It introduced a single architecture for a family of devices.

That is, a program designed to run on any machine in this family could also run on all the others.


This operating system was invented in 1969 by Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. UNIX was one of the first operating systems for computers, written in a language called C. In the end, there ended up being many different versions of UNIX.

UNIX has become the leading operating system for workstations, but has been low in popularity in the PC market.


This language is named after Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century French mathematician who built one of the first mechanical adding machines. It was first developed as a teaching tool.

Niklaus Wirth developed this programming language in the late 1960s. Pascal is a highly structured language.

third generation computers

IBM 360

The third generation began with the introduction of the IBM 360 family of computers. This was arguably the most important machine built during this period.

The big models had…

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *