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The Invention of Printed Circuit Board Technology

The Invention of Printed Circuit Board Technology

Jul 24,2013

The capabilities of modern electronics has expanded drastically thanks to the invention and optimization of the printed circuit board (PCB).

In the very early stages of conception, a printed circuit board was imagined by German inventor Albert Hanson in 1903 as flat foil conductors laminated in multiple layers to an insulating board. The realization to connect electronic components through conductive pathways affixed to a non-conductive board opened the door to innumerable engineering possibilities. Other inventors like Thomas Edison understood this, and he too experimented with a chemical approach the next year to plate conductors onto linen paper.

In the very early stages of conception, a printed circuit board was imagined by German inventor Albert Hanson in 1903 as flat foil conductors laminated in multiple layers to an insulating board. The realization to connect electronic components through conductive pathways affixed to a non-conductive board opened the door to innumerable engineering possibilities. Other inventors like Thomas Edison understood this, and he too experimented with a chemical approach the next year to plate conductors onto linen paper.

It wasn't until a decade later that patents were awarded to several successful methods. A patent for a print-and-etch method was granted to Arthur Berry in the UK, while Max Schoop was awarded a patent in the US for his method of flame-spraying metal onto a board though a patterned mask.

In 1936, Paul Eisler invented the printed circuit board as we know it today, at the time as part of a radio. This technology was then adapted by the US military for the production of anti-aircraft proximity fuses in World War II. With such a widespread, successful use in wartime, the printed circuit board was bound to see more common applications. After the war, PCB assembly was passed on for commercial use in the US, which spurred on its swift incorporation into consumer electronics by the 1950.

Early PCB assembly relied upon through-hole construction, where wire leads are passed through holes in the substrate board and soldered to the PCB trace, but since the 1980, surface-mount construction has often been used instead, allowing for cheaper assembly and smaller, more versatile boards for different uses.

Today, you can find printed circuit boards in everything around the house, from a computer mouse to a microwave to a remote control.

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