Generations of Operating System

0th Generation

The term 0th generation is used to refer to the period of development of computing when Charles Babbage invented the Analytical Engine and later John Atanasoff created a computer in 1940. The hardware component technology of this period was electronic vacuum tubes. There was no Operating System available for this generation computer and computer programs were written in machine language. This computers in this generation were inefficient and dependent on the varying competencies of the individual programmer as operators.

First Generation (1951-1956)

The first generation marked the beginning of commercial computing including the introduction of Eckert and Mauchly’s UNIVAC I in early 1951, and a bit later, the IBM 701.

System operation was performed with the help of expert operators and without the benefit of an operating system for a time though programs began to be written in higher level, procedure-oriented languages, and thus the operator’s routine expanded. Later mono-programmed operating system was developed, which eliminated some of the human intervention in running job and provided programmers with a number of desirable functions. These systems still continued to operate under the control of a human operator who used to follow a number of steps to execute a program. Programming language like FORTRAN was developed by John W. Backus in 1956.

Second Generation (1956-1964)

The second generation of computer hardware was most notably characterised by transistors replacing vacuum tubes as the hardware component technology. The first operating system GMOS was developed by the IBM computer. GMOS was based on single stream batch processing system, because it collects all similar jobs in groups or batches and then submits the jobs to the operating system using a punch card to complete all jobs in a machine. Operating system is cleaned after completing one job and then continues to read and initiates the next job in punch card.

Researchers began to experiment with multiprogramming and multiprocessing in their computing services called the time-sharing system. A noteworthy example is the Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS), developed at MIT during the early 1960s.

Third Generation (1964-1979)

The third generation officially began in April 1964 with IBM’s announcement of its System/360 family of computers. Hardware technology began to use integrated circuits (ICs) which yielded significant advantages in both speed and economy.

Operating system development continued with the introduction and widespread adoption of multiprogramming. The idea of taking fuller advantage of the computer’s data channel I/O capabilities continued to develop.

Another progress which leads to developing of personal computers in fourth generation is a new development of minicomputers with DEC PDP-1. The third generation was an exciting time, indeed, for the development of both computer hardware and the accompanying operating system.

Fourth Generation (1979 – Present)

The fourth generation is characterised by the appearance of the personal computer and the workstation. The component technology of the third generation, was replaced by very large scale integration (VLSI). Many Operating Systems which we are using today like Windows, Linux, MacOS etc developed in the fourth generation.

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