A breadboard (protoboard) is a construction base for a one-of-a-kind electronic circuit, a prototype. In modern times the term is commonly used to refer to a particular type of breadboard, the solderless breadboard (plugboard).
Because the solderless breadboard does not require soldering, it is reusable, and thus can be used for temporary prototypes and experimenting with circuit design more easily. Other, often historic, breadboard types don't have this property. This is also in contrast to stripboard (veroboard) and similar prototyping printed circuit boards, which are used to build more permanent soldered prototypes or one-offs, and cannot easily be reused. A variety of electronic systems may be prototyped by using breadboards, from small analog and digital circuits to complete central processing units (CPUs).
In the early days of radio, amateurs would nail bare copper wires or terminal strips to a wooden board (often literally a cutting board for bread) and solder electronic components to them.. Sometimes a paper schematic diagram was first glued to the board as a guide to placing terminals, then components and wires were installed over their symbols on the schematic. Using thumbtacks or small nails as mounting posts was also common.
Over time, breadboards have evolved greatly, with the term being used for all kinds of prototype electronic devices. For example, US Patent 3,145,483, filed in 1961 and granted in 1964, describes a wooden plate breadboard with mounted springs and other facilities. Six years later, US Patent 3,496,419, granted in 1970 after a 1967 filing, refers to a particular printed circuit board layout as a Printed Circuit Breadboard. Both examples also refer to and describe other types of breadboards as prior art.
The now common, classic, usually white, plastic pluggable (solderless) breadboard, illustrated in this article, was designed by Ronald J Portugal of EI Instruments Inc. in 1971.
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