The 4th Generation was the first to use Integrated Circuits (chips) throughout the design, most noticably with the CPU. Intel’s 4004 Processor was launched in 1971 and the computing world never looked back. As CPU IC’s were expensive, many computers kept the cheaper discrete components, such as the pdp/8’s.
The 3rd Generation begun to use Integrated Circuits. Typically a handful at first for miniturisation of steering logic, but by the end, most areas had IC’s controlling the logic. The “CPU” was still a large collection of discrete electronic components. Each IC could only do the most basic Logical functions.
The 2nd Generation is generally defined as using Transistors as opposed to Vacuum Tubes (Thermionic Valves). Like with all designs, there were crossover points where computers such as the LGP-30 make use of both.
While everyone knows computers are all Digital, that is in fact not the case. Some comptuers were designed to be purely Analogue, and as such are able to calculate complex parabolic equations with little effort. Many gun range computers were Analogue, such as used many tanks. They were also popular for research where an integration equation could be hard-wired into an analogue computer in hours with instant results, when a digital computer would take days to be programmed and run.
Comptuers require a lot of skill, knowledge, support and maintenance, not to mention peripheral devices. At the Time-Line Computer Archive we have many items designed for repair, maintenance and engineer training. In addition, there are several peripheral items for the day to day use of the larger machines.
Calculators are not technically computers because they do not use the calculations to adjust a program. Howerver, at the heart of all Computers and Calculators, there is the same principle of an ALU.
Miscellaneous Items: Anything that is neither a Computer, Computer-associated, nor Calculator. These items include Creed radiocommunications, an International Time Recorder, various Wigton-related artifacts and other random artifacts.
Computers before 12th May 1941
Prior to the 12th May 1941, several attempts had been made at producing mechanical and electromechanical computers. These are noticably the Zeus Z1, Zeus Z2, and most famously the Differential Engine by Charles Babbage. Sadly our collection does not contain any of these examples (Open for donations).