History of Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards are pieces of modern technology that are often taken for granted. Point-to-point construction or non-automated construction of electronic circuits was the  method widely used before and a few years after the invention of printed circuits. Wire wrapping and turret boards were used for short production runs and construction of prototype equipment with minimal electronic parts. Although not as mass produced as modern circuit boards, these methods are still sparingly used to this day.

Printed circuit boards are in fact aptly referred to as motherboards since they are used to support and connect circuitry in nearly all but the most basic electronic devices. However despite the indispensable innovation and convenience that these devices provide us with today, it is fascinating to note that these technological marvels are actually over a hundred years in the making.

As early as the 20th century, development methods that are used in modern printed circuit boards were already being refined by past inventors and innovators.

These experiments included the use of layered foil conductors, plated conductors, etching methods, flame- spraying metal, etc. Thomas Edison was only one of the many notable historical figures who were already creating experimental prototypes of present-day mother boards.As a result, the development of the many components of the printed circuit cannot be credited to one person alone as the process actually occurred over a number of years and over a number of continents. Nonetheless, it was Paul Eisler, an Austrian Engineer, who was credited to have first used the functional printed circuit as an important component in a radio set.


Following its creation, technologies of circuit boards were extensively used by the United States of America during World War II. Anti-aircraft proximity fuses needed to be made on a large scale and this required the mass production of an electronic circuit that could withstand the force of being fired from a gun.

Mr. Harry W. Rubinstein headed the team which devised the technique of screen-printing metallic paint and carbon material on ceramic plates.

Tubes and other components that could not be painted on were soldered in place. However, despite the large quantity of circuits produced, it was only after the war that they were made available to the public for commercial use. Furthermore, it was only subsequent to more developments regarding the assembly of the printed circuit that they became standard components in nearly all electronic consumer devices.

The previous assembly method called trough-hole construction required passing wire leads through the holes of each electronic component before they could be soldered to the printed circuit board. This time-consuming practice was soon replaced by the Auto-Sembly process where dip soldering component leads made large scale production much faster and more efficient. Today, a wave-soldering machine is used in order to automatically solder the separate parts to the board.

As demand for consumer electronic goods increased, it was deemed an economic necessity for the motherboard to support the development of peripheral computer components in the 1980s.


The minimum requirement for the printed circuit boards of personal computers was to capably sustain a number of low-speed secondary components including the keyboard, mouse, etc.Other furtherm innovations in computer technology occurred in such rapid succession during this time period as well. In fact by the late 1990s, a more advanced video and audio range as well as networking capabilities could already be maintained by the motherboard alone.

Many of the past and particularly the most modern advances in their development have made motherboards nearly impervious to wear and tear from average use. Even so,it is important to remember that while these electronic circuits were designed to withstand strong impacts, constant abuse and improper maintenance of your printed circuit boards will definitely result in compromising their lifespan.

Author Bio:

The Auto-Sembly process where dip soldering component leads made large scale production much faster and more efficient. Today, a wave-soldering machine is used in order to automatically solder the separate parts to the printed circuit board.