4th GENERATION COMPUTERS  Highlights ▷ 2020

Approaching the “current” moment appears what is called the Fourth Generation of Computers, an era marked by the invention and introduction of the microprocessor, which was a boom with which we can relate our current teams.

We have already commented on other occasions that the history of computing is defined by various aspects that have marked each of the generations into which it is divided. The microprocessor was the one led to the arrival of the personal computer thanks to the work that was carried out for nine years.

We are going to see in this post that piece of history that covers from 1971 to 1980. If you continue reading you will discover the history and development of computing during these years, the characteristics that mark the time, the main personalities of the moment and, obviously, the computers that stood out the most. See all generations of computers full.

What characteristics define the fourth generation of computers?

On this occasion, the event that makes us consider a fourth revolutionary act in computing is the introduction of microprocessors.

They come with it:

  • An obvious size reduction of the teams.
  • The chip is also developed, which becomes a substitute for magnetic ring memories.
  • You start working with two terms, LSI and VLSI, which refer to the components of a chip.
  • The term “microcomputer” is coined to refer to computers that go on to use microprocessors.
  • Equipment structures are much simpler and therefore cheap.
  • This, in turn, makes work fully on personal computersThat is, on desktop or home computers.
  • Work is being done on the development of connecting computers via networks to share resources.
  • Basic is the language par excellence.
  • The graphical user interface appears, which began to be used at the end of the time in home computers.
  • An enormous step is also taken in the development of the capacities of the supercomputers.

What was the evolution and history of the 4th generation of computers?

intel 4004 first microprocessor

This occurs in 1971, when the microprocessor design, which had been invented in 1969 by Ted Hoff, it is finished outlining and it is put on paper to be shown to the world.

This is an integrated circuit that includes drivers counted by millions and which are the in charge of logic and arithmetic functions. Inside are included transistors, elements of the equipment that are already “replaced” (they are actually still present inside the chip, together with other elements).

During a year this is tested behind closed doors in different machines, being in 1971 the first microprocessor was presented for sale, come from the hand of Intel, the Intel 4004. The chip was 4 bits and had 2300 transistors. Its power was 60,000 operations per second.

This supposes the redesign of computers, which could now be much smaller. With this come the concepts LSI and VLSI (Large Scale Integration and Very Large Scale Integration respectively), which serve to refer to the miniaturization processes suffered by the equipment, which are now called microcomputers or microcomputers.

A year later Launches the Intel 8008, 8-bit, 3300 transistors as well as an improved version, the 8080, also from 8 bits and 4500 transistors, capable of executing up to 200,000 operations per second. This had been designed, finally, for general use, being one of the first attempts to bring computing to homes.

In addition, the size, these are becoming more sophisticated, making teams are much faster and capable usually.

In 1972 Japan designed the first microcomputer, that is, the first computer to include a microprocessor. This was the SMP80 / 08, a piece that never went on sale.

In 1973, Micral N appearsdesigned by Frenchmen who, apparently, were the first to coin, with a patent, the term “microcomputer”. Its use was technical and scientific, still far from the conventional user. He rode the legendary Intel 8008.

One year later see the light scelbi, which was the first American computer to be commercialized after an advertisement, that is, if you had enough capital, you could get it.

1975 is the year of Altair 8800, a piece manufactured by MITS that included the programming language par excellence of these years, Basic.

In 1977 what we could call the second revolution of the microcomputer is experienced by enter home or personal computer, precisely thanks to the evolution of everything we have discussed.

With the novelties of the sector, really capable devices could be manufactured but much smaller and in mass, its price can be greatly reduced and becoming accessible to all audiences.

Best inventors of the fourth generation of computers

inventors fourth generation computers

Although some of these faces you will have already seen if you have read our post about the third generation computational, you will see that they were also personalities of this fourth.

Ted hoff

He is the person to whom we owe the beginning of this age, the inventor of the microprocessor. The engineer finished painting it in 1969, incorporating an idea that was totally revolutionary in the field of electronic circuits. It is worth mentioning that this is due to the impossibility of solving the problem of a client, who demanded a connector with twelve microchips of different functions.


It is the company, founded by Norton Noyce, who outlined the design of integrated circuits, which takes the microprocessor concept and makes it brutally popular. Create the first microprocessor on the market, the Intel 4004.

It is also responsible for the following three “colossal” models, Intel 8008, the first 8-bit, Intel 8080. which was the first specifically designed for general use, and Intel 8088, which would be the first member of the well-known architecture x86.

John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz

They are the professor and the scientist who gave life to the programming language par excellence used during these years for both large computers for private use and for those that were launched on the market and that were available to everyone. This is BASIC, perhaps the best known in history. Of course, after transferring the user license to Altair, Microsoft designs an interpreter for this that is the one that was known to the whole world.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen

Known for founding Microsoft in 1975, were in charge of design Altair BASIC, an interpreter of the well-known programming language that went around the world, being sued by all computer manufacturers and turning them into millionaires shortly after starting their career as entrepreneurs.

Stephen Wozniak

Considered a father of computing, designed the Apple I and Apple II computers (the most popular commercial personal computer of the fourth generation of computers) after founding his own company.

It was a marvel since childhood, so much so that with Apple made it through to Altairs thanks, in part to the idea of ​​including a display and an external storage unit, Disk II, which he created himself too.

What featured computers appeared in the 4th generation of computers?

As in every computational era, we have some teams that stood out, each one in his own way. Let’s see them.


cray-1 supercomputer

The world is made aware of what would be the supercomputer with the first commercial access microprocessor. The first is taken by the Los Álamos National Laboratory and then 80 more are sold.

It is also one of the best known in history. He stood out at the time, between 1976 and 1980, for being really powerful; so much so that it remained on the market for another decade with several versions.


PDP-11 Supercomputer

It was launched before microprocessors. However, such was his success that was adapted to be able to mount these and continue in the market for 10 more years. And it is that this minicomputer was the first to mount its main elements on just one bus, of the asynchronous type, a characteristic that, of course, made it a landmark.

Program 101

program 101

Its about first commercial personal computer of history, put into operation already in the year 1964 by Olivetti but without making himself known. It is curious, because it was the team that managed to set foot on our satellite.

Even so, it is not, for many, an important one in the history of computing, although, on this occasion, we have to disagree. Also, as you may have seen, it was designed much earlier than the rest, even during the third generation. However, such was his bad or no publicity that it seems that nobody noticed, even though 44,000 copies were sold in the US.

Altair 8800

Altair 8800

Its design ends in 1974 and begins to be sold the following year. The creators of the Basic language decided to assign their license so that it was the one that this machine carried as standard (including “Altair BASIC”, an interpreter of the language designed by Microsoft). Too incorporated the Intel 8080, which would be the first 16-bit microprocessor. The built-in bus (S-100) was the standard in subsequent years.

Its sale together with keyboard and mouse was a success and why many consider it the first personal computer. In addition, they liked very much that it was sold an assembled version, but also that it was presented to be assembled as a kit, with more than a hundred options.

Apple ii

Apple ii

A family of microcomputers mass-produced in 1977. This has been sold for 7 years with great success and at a more than reasonable price, especially after the launch of the spreadsheet, VisiCalc.

The original mounted a 6502 processor, 4 KiB of RAM and its architecture was 8 bits. In 1979 Apple II Plus appeared, notable for being able to expand its RAM memory with a “language card”.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and it will surely be of great help to more members of the community. Thank you! 😉

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