5th Generation Computer

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The history of computer development is often referred to in reference to the different generations of computing devices. Each generation of computer is characterized by a major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate, resulting in increasingly smaller, cheaper, more powerful and more efficient and reliable devices. Read about each generation and the developments that led to the current devices that we use today. The computers being developed presently belong to the fifth generation. The most significant aspect of this generation of computers is expected to be the “artificial intelligence”. The chips used in these computers are “Very Large Scale Integrated” circuit (VLSI) with high power & efficiency. Besides VLSI there is LSI, ULSI types of chips which are also being used in fifth generation computers. The term fifth generation was intended to convey the system as being a leap beyond existing machines. Computers using vacuum tubes were called the first generation; transistors and diodes, the second; integrated circuits, the third; and those using microprocessors, the fourth. Whereas previous computer generations had focused on increasing the number of logic elements in a single CPU, the fifth generation, it was widely believed at the time, would instead turn to massive numbers of CPUs for added performance. The goal of fifth generation computing is to develop computers that are capable of learning and self-organization. The fifth generation computers use Super Large Scale Integrated (SLSI) chips that are able to store millions of components on a single chip. These computers have large memory requirements. This generation of computers uses parallel processing that allows several instructions to be executed in parallel, instead of serial execution. Parallel processing results in faster processing speed. The Intel dualcore microprocessor uses parallel processing. The fifth generation computers are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). They try to simulate the human way of thinking and reasoning. Artificial Intelligence includes areas like Expert System (ES), Natural Language Processing (NLP), speech recognition, voice recognition, robotics, etc.

It has been predicted that such a computer will be able to communicate in natural spoken language with its user; store vast knowledge databases; search rapidly through these databases, making intelligent inferences and drawing logical conclusions; and process images and ‘see’ objects in the way that humans do.


The Japanese Fifth Generation project was a collaborative effort of the Japanese computer industry coordinated by the Japanese Government that intended not only to update the hardware technology of computers but alleviate the problems of programming by creating AI operating systems that would ferret out what the user wanted and then do it. The Project chose to use PROLOG as the computer language for the AI programming instead of the LISP-based programming of the American AI researchers.

"Ten years ago we faced criticism of being too reckless," said Kazuhiro Fuchi, Fifth Generation's head. "Now we see criticism from inside and outside the country because we have failed to achieve such grand goals."

The Fifth Generation Project in computer technology was an attempt to leapfrog Western computer expertise and create an entirely new computer technology. Although the generation terminology is a bit murky, there was the general perception that there had been a number of generations of computer design and the accompanying operating methods. The story itself was as follows:

Tokyo June 4.--A bold 10-year effort by Japan to seize the lead in computer technology is fizzling to a close having failed to meet many of its ambitious goals or to produce technology that Japan's computer industry wanted. After spending $400 million on its widely heralded Fifth Generation computer project, the Japanese...
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