Printed circuit boards are parts of an electronic device that make the path to complete an electronic circuit. But instead of the typical wires to connect each component, it has copper strips set in a pattern on a single board, and the components are all connected to it.
Electronic devices were already in use before circuit boards became a standard, but with the old method of connecting each component, it was what was called the “point-to-point construction.” This involved connecting the electronic components using wires and sockets. This will make the electronic device work, but not efficiently. Multiple breakdowns would occur and replacing the parts of the device, especially the wires and sockets that connect them, becomes necessary. The wires used back then as well had weak insulations and would wear down, exposing the metal cores and it can cause a short-circuit inside the device itself.
To have a clear picture of how a point-to-point construction might look like, it can be compared to how old electronic switchboards worked. Wires were open and exposed and switching back and forth would be done manually. With this, breakdowns and repairs are common and will eat up a lot of precious time.
Attempts of making a circuit board involved using materials like Masonite, or even just a thin piece of wood. The components would be riveted in place on one side of the board and then wires would be used on the other side, connecting each rivet together, which then completes the needed circuit.
Paul Eisler, who hailed from the United Kingdom, was able to develop a means of etching copper foil onto the surface of reinforced glass to create one of the earlier printed circuit boards back in 1943, but the idea only picked up more attention after World War II. The US Military also used this during the war.
In 1947, the first double-sided circuit boards were invented. These had plated through holes for the components that will be attached to them. The holes made it easier for the needed components to be installed onto the board. Surface Mount Technology was then introduced during the 1980’s. This was a new way of mounting electronic components onto a circuit board where the component would be “stamped” onto the board. Soldering the component would not be necessary after this.
For the circuits to be completed earlier circuit boards would have the copper patterns placed under the boards and they would be connected to the components through either riveting or soldering. Nowadays, circuit boards would be multilayered. This involves having more than one copper pattern onto just one board. Soldering or “stamping” the components is still used to connect them to the circuit board.
Further development of printed circuit boards throughout the years has enabled us to create smaller boards and smaller components while at the same time keeping the efficiency of the devices but at a smaller production cost. This is what made computers shrink down from those that occupy a large room to a powerful one that only rests on top of a desk. Computers would be very bulky and slow if such components were still connected together through a point-to-point construction and the efficiency of such a device would not even be as good as how computers perform now.
Nowadays, printed circuit boards have been further improved. Computers can now even rest on top of someone’s lap and the cellular phones have become smarter than before and can do more than just make and receive calls. Television sets also use the newer circuit boards to do more than just show what’s on air.
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