Third Generation Computers

1964-1971

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IBM System/360

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     Despite the fact that transistors were clearly an improvement over the vacuum tube, they still generated a great deal of heat, which damaged the computer's sensitive internal parts.  The quartz rock eliminated this problem.  Jack Kilby, an engineer with Texas Instruments, developed the integrated circuit (IC) in 1958.  The IC combined three electronic components onto a small silicon disc, which was made from quartz.  Scientists later managed to fit even more components on a single chip, called a semiconductor.  As a result, computers became ever smaller as more components were squeezed onto the chip.  Another third-generation development included the use of an operating system that allowed machines to run many different programs at once with a central program that monitored and coordinated the computer's memory (Gersting 35 - 39).

    Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. built the first standard metal oxide semiconductor product for data processing applications, an eight-bit arithmetic unit and accumulator.  The fundamental components of this semiconductor laid the groundwork for the future discovery of the microprocessor in 1971.  Another company that took advantage of the third generation advancements was IBM with the unveiling of the IBM System/360.  The company was making a transition from discrete transistors to integrated circuits, and its major source of revenue moved from punched-card equipment to electronic computer systems.

    In 1969 AT&T Bell Laboratories programmers Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie developed the UNIX operating system on a spare DEC minicomputer.  UNIX was the first modern operating system that provided a sound intermediary between software and hardware.  UNIX provided the user with the means to allocate resources on the fly, rather than requiring the resources be allocated in the design stages.  The UNIX operating system quickly secured a wide following, particularly among engineers and scientists at universities and other computer science organizations.