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The fourth generation computers and their features

The fourth generation of computers came into existence in 1971 and continued to exist till 2010. Some people argue that the fourth generation computers still exist based on the fact that, the main technology used by the fourth generation computers was a microprocessor which is sometimes referred to as central processing unit (CPU) is still been used in computers built in recent times. Microprocessor was developed as a way of further reducing the size of computers and also increasing their processing ability as compared to the previous generation of computers.

Some examples of fourth generation computers are: STAR 1000, DEC 10, PDP 11, CRAY-X-MP, CRAY-1.

Very large scale integration ( VLSI) is a process of mounting thousands or millions of metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) transistors onto only one chip. VLSI is what was used to develop the microprocessor which makes it a very large scale integrated circuit and has been of great use to the fourth generation computers.

Features of fourth generation computers

  1. They use VLSI technology.
  2. They are smaller in size.
  3. They can be used in a network ( e.g LAN).
  4. They are portable.
  5. They are cheap as compared to the other ones.
  6. They don’t need an AC to operate.
  7. They are easily available.
  8. They are reliable and provide better accuracy as compared to the previous generation of computers.

Terms to notice

Microchip: It is a general term for all electronic circuits usually made of silicon.

Microprocessor: It is a complex integrated circuit in a computer. Which means it contains different processors.

CPU or processor: This is a hardware component in the system unit of a computer which is responsible for processing data and also controlling input and output devices.


VLSI: It is the process of mounting millions of MOS transistors onto a single chip.

Semiconductor: It is a solid substance that may act as an insulator or a conductor due to temperature change or addition of impurity. Most common example is silicon.