The second generation computers were marked by the use of transistors in place of vacuum tubes and magnetic cores for internal storage. This generation which ranges from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s saw the introduction of printed circuits. Although transistors generated a lot of heat, they were faster and more reliable than those made of vacuum tubes. In terms of input, computers of the second generation still relied on punched cards while internal storage was on magnetic cores. Examples of second generation computers include IBM 1401, Honeywell 400, IBM 7090, IBM7094, UNIVAC 1107, UNIVAC 1108, ATLAS LEO, Mark III, Honeywell 1800, and Honeywell H200.
By comparing to the first generation computers, second generation computers:
- were smaller in size due to the use of transistors.
- used less energy and produced less heat.
- were less prone to hardware failure.
- were more reliable.
- had a wider commercial use.
- had a better portability as compared to the first generation computers.
- were fast and could calculate data in microseconds.
- used faster peripherals like tape drives, printer among others.
- used magnetic cores for internal memory.
- used magnetic tape as it was introduced as secondary memory.
- used assembly language for programming instead of machine language.
- had improved accuracy.
Second generation computers:
- still produced a lot of heat, therefore, required a special cooling system.
- required frequent maintenance since they easily broke down.
- commercial production was difficult.
- were only used for specific purposes.
- were costly and not versatile.
- still used punched cards for data input.
- used printouts for the output of information.