The computers of third generation used the electrical components known as integrated circuits (IC’s) in place of transistors. The development of IC technology was the hallmark of third generation computers. A single IC has many transistors, resistors and capacitors along with the associated circuitry on a single chip of silicon. The period of third generation computers ranges from the early 1960s to the early 1970s.
Most third generation computers allowed a user to interact with a computer through keyboards and monitors. Keyboards were used for data input, monitors were used for data output while magnetic disks and magnetic tapes were used for secondary memory.
For the first time, computers became accessible to many people because they were smaller and cheaper than the computers of the previous generations. This integrated circuit which was invented by Jack Kilby; made computers smaller in size, reliable, and efficient. Some examples of computers in this generation include IBM 360/370, Honeywell-6000 series, IBM-370/168 among others.
The computers of the third generation:
- Were smaller in size and less expensive than the previous generations.
- Were reliable than the previous ones.
- Consumed less electricity and produced less heat than the previous generations
- Had a higher processing speed and could calculate data in nanoseconds.
- Had a higher storage capacity compared to the previous generations.
- Used fan for heat discharge to prevent damage.
- Used high languages like Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) and Formula Translator (FOTRAN) language for programming.
- Maintenance cost was low because hardware failure was rare.
- Used mouse and keyboard for data input.
- Were designed for general purpose
- Were more accurate.
- Commercial production increased.
- The initial cost was high due to the sophisticated technology required in the development of Integrated Circuits (ICs).
- Air conditioning was required since they still produced a lot of heat.