Report: Slave and Expert Systems

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  Late 1950s - Early 1960s: Second Generation Computers

An important change in the development of computers occurred in 1948 with the invention of the transistor. It replaced the large, unwieldy vacuum tube and as a result led to a shrinking in size of electronic machinery. The transistor was first applied to a computer in 1956. Combined with the advances in magnetic-core memory, the use of transistors resulted in computers that were smaller, faster, more reliable and more energy-efficient than their predecessors.

Stretch by IBM and LARC by Sperry-Rand (1959) were the first large-scale machines to take advantage of the transistor technology (and also used assembly language instead of the difficult machine language). Both developed for atomic energy laboratories could handle enormous amounts of data, but still were costly and too powerful for the business sector's needs. Therefore only two LARC's were ever installed.

Throughout the early 1960s there were a number of commercially successful computers (for example the IBM 1401) used in business, universities, and government and by 1965 most large firms routinely processed financial information by using computers. Decisive for the success of computers in business was the stored program concept and the development of sophisticated high-level programming languages like FORTRAN (Formular Translator), 1956, and COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), 1960, that gave them the flexibility to be cost effective and productive. The invention of second generation computers also marked the beginning of an entire branch, the software industry, and the birth of a wide range of new types of careers.

browse Report:
Slave and Expert Systems
    Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Early Tools
-3   1950: The Turing Test
-2   1940s - 1950s: The Development of Early Robotics Technology
-1   1950s: The Beginnings of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research
0   Late 1950s - Early 1960s: Second Generation Computers
+1   1961: Installation of the First Industrial Robot
+2   Late 1960s - Early 1970s: Third Generation Computers
+3   1960s - 1970s: Increased Research in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
1980s: Artificial Intelligence (AI) - From Lab to Life
Communications satellites are relay stations for radio signals and provide reliable and distance-independent high-speed connections even at remote locations without high-bandwidth infrastructure.

On point-to-point transmission, the transmission method originally employed on, satellites face increasing competition from fiber optic cables, so point-to-multipoint transmission increasingly becomes the ruling satellite technology. Point-to-multipoint transmission enables the quick implementation of private networks consisting of very small aperture terminals (VSAT). Such networks are independent and make mobile access possible.

In the future, satellites will become stronger, cheaper and their orbits will be lower; their services might become as common as satellite TV is today.

For more information about satellites, see How Satellites Work (http://octopus.gma.org/surfing/satellites) and the Tech Museum's satellite site (http://www.thetech.org/hyper/satellite).