MU123 TMA 01 returned and thoughts on TMA 01 for TM129

TMA 1 returned!

I received my first TMA back for MU123 (Discovering mathematics), I am so pleased that I got 94%. I was quite confident that I did well, I re-read it and re-read it again before I submitted it and made any alterations with it. My tutor gave me some constructive criticism which I will take on board.

What's next?

Well I need to continue on with the study material, obviously, MU123 gives you about 2 weeks to do one unit, so it has taken me a while to juggle my time with studying this module as well as TM129, I have noticed that TM129 isn't really as heavy as MU123 in terms of the amount of time I need to put aside to study, I can complete a whole unit in TM129 in a day straight.

I am doing TMA 01 for TM129 at the moment and I have had a bit of trouble with it, it seems to be more in depth than TMA 01 for MU123 was. I have only got question 4 and 5 to do. Question 4 wants me to write a short report on the use of robots in the logistics industry mainly warehouses. This has proved more difficult that I first thought. I will let you know how I get on when I get my results in.

Personal note

I must say that I don't find robotics that interesting, and I'm not really sure why this block is included in TM129, I understand that the module is "technologies in practice"  however, after this block there is nothing else to do with robotics in the entire course i.e in Stage two or stage three. so by the time I go on to the next stage which should be next October, I would of forgotten everything I have learnt.

I have nearly finished iCMA for MU123 as well, this needs to be finished and submitted by 5th December. The TMA 01 for TM129 needs to be submitted by 7th December and then TMA 02 for MU123 needs to be finished and submitted by 19th December (which I have not even started yet!)






The Four Generations of Computers

Images taken from Jaybirduk from flickr, click on the images to be taken to that page.

In TU100 I have learnt that there're 4 generations of computers, the first one being from around WW2 these are the computers which use thermionic valves, such as the Colossus which was used to break the codes by the germans.

This machine used paper tape  for data input, for the output it would send it to an electric typewriter.

The public did not know about this machine until it went on to the public domain in the 1970's, it is now an attraction at Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, the original Colossus was decommissioned at the end of the war and dismantled and destroyed, but a working replica was produced which stands in its place today.

ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer)Image taken from Click on the image to be taken to that page.

Another example of the first generation computers was the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) this was built by the University of Pennsylvania this also used thermionic valves the same as Colossus. This computer weighed 27 tonnes and occupied 63 square metres and was 26 metres long.

It was used to for lengthy calculations for the US Military. The ENIAC was not very user friendly like computers are today it used to take weeks and weeks to set up a program and errors could occur and then you would have to start again. You could not save your program state either and it was very unreliable, it was under repair more than it was working.

On a side note, Thermionic valves were very delicate and used to break a lot, they discovered that if you left the machine on then the valves would last longer.

IBM 608 calculator. This image was taken from

The Second generation of computers were those that used transistors, these came out in the late 1950's. These computers where still very large and still very expensive for example one of the first computers that had this transistor technology was IBM's 608 at a price of $83,000 that was a huge outlay for most companies. Most of the computers of course as I mentioned above they were large but a lot smaller than the Colossus and the ENIAC, some of these transistor based computers were about the size of wardrobes.

These new transistors were a few millimetres in diameter so they were less than a thousandth of the volume of the thermionic valve. Transistors were much cheaper to manufacture than valves and of course they were more reliable as well. the switching speeds were also much faster than that of the valves.

The third generation of computers saw rise of the integrated circuit (IC) this was also known as 'chip' or 'silicon

IBM System/360

chip' with these computers punchcards and tape were the thing of the past they were no longer used for input and output instead they had peripherals known as 'keyboards' for the input and for the output they had 'monitors' so for the out put of data they no longer needed paper printouts, also in this generation the Floppy disk was introduced, The IC was much faster in terms of processing speed than any of it's predecessors. Many minicomputers and mainframes moved onto this technology. These silicon chips were made from several components integrated onto a single chip. The IC computers were also able to talk to each other through telephone lines these were called terminals and could be distributed across the country and connected to a single shares computer.

The fourth generation of computers are basically the computers of today - the microprocessor (CPU) all computers and devices including Smart phones, tablets laptops, set top boxes, and even televisions have microprocessors, the microprocessor came out in the late 1970's, it has reduced running costs and manufacturers are able to make in large numbers. With the rise to the microprocessor, home computers were very much a reality, as these processors were cheaper to make and as I said before companies to make large amounts of them every day people started to have a personal PC in their home.

A IBM XT from the early 1980's image taken from