What Is Computer? Types, Generations and History

This article is totally dedicated to computers and its important components. We have also mentioned important terms and definitions that will help you get more clarity on “What is a computer?”.


The word ‘Computer’ is not an acronym and therefore there is no full form of this word. Instead, it has a proper meaning derived from “Compute”. To compute means to calculate and Computer simply means an electronic device that is used for fast and accurate calculations.

You may find some people saying that there is a full form of Computer which is:

Common Operating Machine Particularly Used for Technological and Educational Research

But it is not true because back in times, Computers were invented only for quick and accurate calculations to save time and errors made by humans. So this full form is only a myth and nothing else.


A computer is an electronic device that accepts the information as input from the user processes it with a set of instructions using programs and displays the desired output.

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The concept of programmable computer was originated by an English mechanical engineer and polymath named Charles Babbage. He is considered the father of the computer.

He invented the first mechanical computer in the early 19th century.

John Von Neumann laid the idea of modern computers in 1945. In his design, the program is read by the computer one instruction at a time, and operation is performed and then the computer reads the next instruction.


A computer is a system that follows instructions to store, retrieve, and process data using its hardware and software components.

It contains Arithmetic Logical Unit (ALU) and Control Unit (CU) to perform arithmetic and logical operations.


Computer hardware covers all those parts and devices that are tangible and physical. That can be touched. Memory chips, motherboard, transistors, keyboard, mouse, cables, etc. are the examples that come under the hardware of the computer.


Computer software consists of all the stuff that cannot be touched with bare hands. The parts that do not have any material form. Programs, protocols, encoded information, languages, processing instructions, data, etc. come under the software category.

What is the full form of URL?


The computer consists mainly of 3 parts and they are Input devices, Central Processing Unit, and Output devices.

Input Devices

The devices that are used by a user to give input in form of information to the computer so that it can process the instructions are called input devices. Example: Keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone, joystick, trackball, touch screen, etc.

Central Processing Unit

It reads the input given by the user and performs desired operations and gives the output. CPU contains the control unit and arithmetic logic unit. They collectively form the main part of the computer and thus we call the CPU as the brain of the computer.

Output Device


They are the medium through which the computer gives the desired output to a user.

Example: Monitor screen, printer, audio speakers, projector, etc.


The generations of a computer are decided by the major technological upgrades it has gone through by the passing years.

First Generation

Computers of 1940 to 1956 are considered as 1st gen computers. They used vacuum tubes in them. ENIAC was the first computer of this generation.

Second Generation

1956 to 1963 are the 2nd gen computers. The vacuum tubes got replaced by transistors.

Third Generation

From 1964 to 1971 are the 3rd gen computers. They were much smaller in size as the Integrated Circuits (ICs) were used with several transistors that compressed the large bodies of computers. They were much cheaper in price than their predecessors.

Fourth Generation

1972 to 2010 were the 4th gen computers. Microprocessors were used along with ICs. RAM, ROM and high level languages like C and C++ were used here.

Fifth Generation

Since 2010 we are in the 5th generation. It uses Artificial Intelligence and its best examples are Siri on iPhone and Cortana on Windows 8 and 10.


Broadly there are 5 types of computers that you should be aware of. We have listed them below.

Micro Computer

 These are basically single user computers that are less in storage capacity and less in speed. It has a microprocessor as the CPU. The very first micro computer had 8-bit microprocessor.

Our laptops, desktop computers, tablets, personal digital assistant (PDA) and even smart phones are the examples of micro computers. Their basic utilization includes browsing, surfing information on internet, MS Office, Emails, etc.

Mini Computer

They are also called as Midrange Computers. They are multi user computers that can be used by multiple users simultaneously. They are mostly seen in small firms and offices. They are used by specific departments in the companies to store their information and process it.

Just for the example, the admission department in the colleges and universities can use these computers for monitoring the admission process.

Mainframe Computer

This one is also a multi user computer capable of handling thousands of users in single time. They are mostly used in big industries and government organisations as they can store large data and process more information in single go.

Banks, insurance companies, government departments use these computers to store a huge data of every single customer, policy holders and citizens respectively.

Super Computer

They are the fastest among all and are expensive as well. They have huge storage capacities. They have unmatchable speed and can perform millions of instructions in a second.

They are usually task specific and are used for special operations such as scientific and numerical problem solving in electronics, weather forecasting, medicine, space research, etc.

NASA uses a super computer for launching space satellites and monitoring them from earth.

Work Stations

It is again a single user computer. It is very similar to personal computer but it has more powerful processor and premium quality monitor. It has larger storage capacity than personal computer.

It is used to perform tasks like desktop publishing, software development, etc.


* They are a great time savers and can perform hefty calculations and lot more in the matter of blink of an eye.

* They will help you in increasing your productivity because when you will start understanding its usage then you are going to reach out for it every time.

* They help you connect to the rest of the world by sitting in your home. Internet is a boon to mankind in terms of being able to help your own self without bothering others.

* It can store all your important work assignments, homework, ebooks and entertainment dose as well.

* It helps you in organizing your data with few clicks in no time.It helps improve your mental ability, grammar and you can learn a lot more on it in your leisure time.

* It keeps you entertained as you can watch your favourite movies and listen to your favourite songs on it.

We hope this article was helpful to our readers in solving their doubts. We tried to cover all the related information regarding computers to date.

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