A brief history of computers

The development of computer hardware over the last 50 years has been remarkable with each generation becoming faster, cheaper, smaller and more powerful. Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, predicted in 1965 that computer power, roughly speaking, would double every 18 months. This became known as Moore's Law and to this date has turned out to be remarkably accurate. To put the advance in perspective, the first electronic computers built in the late 1940s had been capable of a few hundred operations per second compared with computers that were built 50 years later capable of one trillion operations per second. Indeed, such has been the speed of change, that the processing power of a mobile telephone now exceeds that of the early generations of mainframe computers. The main reason has been the phenomenal advance in electronic technology in the manufacture of computer components. Since the first computers began to appear in the late 1940s, there have been four distinct generations of computer hardware characterised by advances in electronic technology.

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