Forth Generation 

History of Computing
Father of Computer

Fourth Generation of Computers (1972-1984)

In this generation, there were developments of large-scale integration or LSI (1000 devices per chip) and very large-scale integration or VLSI (10000 devices per chip). These developments enabled the entire processor to fit into a single chip and in fact, for simple systems, the entire computer with processor; main memory and I/O controllers could fit on a single chip.

Core memories now were replaced by semiconductor memories and high-speed vectors dominated the scenario. Names of few such vectors were Cray1, Cray X-MP and Cyber205. A variety of parallel architectures developed too, but they were mostly in the experimental stage.

As far as programming languages are concerned, there were development of high-level languages like FP or functional programming and PROLOG (programming in logic). Declarative programming style was the basis of these languages where a programmer could leave many details to the compiler or runtime system. Alternatively languages like PASCAL, C used imperative style. Two other conspicuous developments of this era were the C programming language and UNIX operating system. Ritchie, the writer of C and Thompson together used C to write a particular type of UNIX for DEC PDP 11. This C based UNIX was then widely used in many computers.

Another event that is mention worthy was the publication of the report by Peter D. Lax in 1982, which was sponsored by the US department and National Scientific Foundation. The Lax report, as it was called, emphasized on the need of initiatives and coordinated national attention in the arena of high performing computing in the US. The immediate response to the Lax report was the establishment of NSF Supercomputing Centers. Other centers that came up later were San Diego Supercomputing Center, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, John von Neumann Center and Cornell Theory Center. These institutes had really been instrumental in providing computing time on super computers to the students, training them and also helping in the development of software packages.

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