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First generation computers bore little resemblance to computers of today, either in appearance or performance. The first generation of computers took place from 1940 to 1956 and was extremely large in size.
The second generation (from 1956 to 1963) of computers managed to do away with vacuum tubes in lieu of transistors. This allowed them to use less electricity and generate less heat.
From 1964 to 1971 computers went through a significant change in terms of speed, courtesy of integrated circuits. Integrated circuits, or semiconductor chips, were large numbers of miniature transistors packed on silicon chips.
The changes with the greatest impact occurred in the years from 1971 to 2010. During this time technology developed to a point where manufacturers could place millions of transistors on a single circuit chip.