The development and introduction of minicomputers

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Unformatted text preview: easily move up to the next model without worrying about converting all its existing software. The development and introduction of minicomputers also took place during the thirdgeneration period. The computers built till the early 1960s were mainframe systems, which only very large companies could afford to purchase and use. Clearly, a need existed for low-cost smaller computers to fill the gaps left by the bigger, faster, and costlier mainframe systems. Several innovators recognized this need and formed new firms in the 1960s to produce smaller computers. The first commercially available minicomputer, the PDP-8 (Programmed Data Processor), was introduced in 1965 by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). It could easily fit in the corner of a room and did not require the attention of a full-time computer operator. It was based on timesharing operating system and could be accessed simultaneously by a number of users from different locations in the same building. Its cost was about one-fourth of the cost of a traditional mainframe system, making it possible for smaller companies to afford computers. It confirmed the tremendous demand for small computers for business and scientific applications, and by 1971 there were more than 25 computer manufacturers who had entered the minicomputer market. The characteristic features of third-generation computers are as follows: 1. They were much more powerful than the second-generation computers. They were capable of performing about l million instructions per second. 2. They were much smaller in size than second-generation computers, requiring smaller space for installation. 3. Although the heat dissipation was much less than second-generation computers, still the rooms/areas in which the third-generation computers were located had to be properly air conditioned. 4. They consumed much less power than the second-generation computers. 5. They were much more reliable and less prone to hardware failures than the secondgeneration computers. Hence the maintenance cost was much lower. 6. They had faster and lar...
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This document was uploaded on 04/07/2014.

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