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The transistor was far superior to the vacuum tube, allowing computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy-efficient and more reliable than their first-generation predecessors. Though the transistor still generated a great deal of heat that subjected the computer to damage, it was a vast improvement over the vacuum tube.Second-generation computers still relied on punched cards for input and printouts for output. Second-generation computers moved from cryptic binary machine language to symbolic, or assembly, languages, which allowed programmers to specify instructions in words. High-level programming languages were also being developed at this time, such as early versions of COBOL and FORTRAN. These were also the first computers that stored their instructions in their memory, which moved from a magnetic drum to magnetic core technology. The first computers of this generation were developed for the atomic energy industry.
(Manufacturers – IBM 7030, Digital Data Corporation’s PDP 1/5/8 Honeywell 400)

  1. Transistors were used in place of vacuum tubes. (invented at AT&T Bell lab in 1947)
  2. Small in size
  3. Lesser power consumption and better performance
  4. Lower cost
  5. Magnetic ferrite core memories were used as main memory which is a random-access nonvolatile memory
  6. Magnetic tapes and magnetic disks were used as secondary memory
  7. Hardware for floating point arithmetic operations was developed.
  8. Index registers were introduced which increased flexibility of programming.
  9. High level languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL etc were used - Compilers were developed to translate the high-level program into corresponding assembly language program which was then translated into machine language.
  10. Separate input-output processors were developed that could operate in parallel with CPU.
  11. Punched cards continued during this period also.
  12. 1000 fold increase in speed.
  13. Increasingly used in business, industry and commercial organizations for preparation of payroll, inventory control, marketing, production planning, research, scientific & engineering analysis and design etc.

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