The So-Called "Second Generation" of Computers are Introduced

A 1955 ad for the surface-barrier transistor

A 1955 ad for the surface-barrier transistor, which was a key development enabling the "second generation"  of computers. The surface-barrier transistor was the first type that could compete with vacuum tubes in speed.

In 1957 commercial transistorized computers, including the UNIVAC Solid State 80 and the Philco TRANSAC S-2000, were introduced. These solid-state machines inaugurated the so-called second generation of electronic computers. A key factor in their development was the surface barrier transistor developed by Philco in 1953. This was the first type of transistor that could compete with vacuum tubes in speed.

The UNIVAC SS 80 "was one of the first computers to be (nearly) entirely solid-state, using 700 transistors, and 3000 magnetic amplifiers (FERRACTOR) for primary logic, and 20 vacuum tubes largely for power control. It came in two versions, the Solid State 80 (IBM-style 80 column cards) and the Solid State 90 (Remington-Rand 90 column cards). In addition to the "80/90" designation, there were two variants of the Solid State – the SS I 80/90 and the SS II 80/90. The SS II series included two enhancements – the addition of 1,280 words of core memory and support for magnetic tape drives. The SS I had only the standard 5,000-word drum memory described in this article and no tape drives" (Wikipedia article on UNIVAC Solid State, accessed 9-2020).

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