The fourth generation

The fourth generation of computers became known as microcomputers, and were being built in the late 1970s and were based upon silicon chip technology. The level of miniaturisation was such that these silicon chip based machines became small enough to fit on a home desktop and, thus, the birth of the home computer began. The term microcomputer has now become synonymous with what we now call the Personal Computer (PC). Today's machines are still using silicon chip technology, but, enormously powerful compared to the early crop of silicon chip machines. Examples of early fourth-generation computers were:

The Apple II microcomputer - developed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, co-founders ofthe Apple Corporation, during 1978. The Apple II was a huge success with worldwide sales exceeding 1 million. The system used an 8-bit Motorola 6502 microprocessor, had 16k standard RAM memory and used floppy disks for external storage. The Apple II was priced at under $2000, and became a leader in the educational and home computing markets, as well as the small business sector.

The BBC Micro manufactured by Acorn Computers, this was a very successful UK microcomputer during the early 1980s. The system had 32k RAM standard memory and used magnetic tape cassette medium for storage, although it was expandable to include floppy disk storage. It was successful both in the home and educational computing markets, with many schools and college using networked BBC Micros.

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