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VR Industries Blog

History of The Printed Circuit Board

by VR Industries

Printed circuit boards may be the driving force at the heart of nearly every product we use today, but it wasn't always like that. They've come a long way and have transformed with technology into the high-powered chip they are today.

What follows is the ancestral lineage of the modern day PCB.

Early years
The initial idea for PCB assembly came about in the early 1900s, when ArchiLovers reported that historians believe the term first came into existence. It wasn't until 1925 when American inventor Charles Ducas brought forth theory into existence with a patent he filed.

PCB manufacturing was lean at this time to say the least. As wires did most of the work moving electrical impulses from one end to the other, the actual base material was reported to be anything from masonite to thin planks of wood, according to Rapid PCB.

It's generally agreed upon that Paul Eisler created the first prototype that resembled the PCB that would be used moving forward in this time period. This was sometime between 1943 and 1947. Some double-sided designs were being created at this time, but they didn't gain any traction until late into the '50s and '60s.

Picking up steam
PCB manufacturing really picked up steam during World War II, when the U.S. army and defense contractors began to realize the potential of the boards. As weaponry evolved extremely quickly during the war, so did their designs. Most of these compositions required electronic impulses to be transmitted from distances - a specialty of the PCB. One of the common devices they were used with were proximity fuses.

Thus, the U.S. Patent Office gave researchers a patent geared toward developing the product for the U.S. army to use. This became known as the "Process of Assembling Electronic Circuits," and provided a major breakthrough to the community. Essentially, a pattern would be printed onto a zinc-composite plate, which would then become a blueprint for the interconnection of wires on top of foil.

Older computers ramped up interest in the PCB sector.Older computers ramped up interest in the PCB sector.

Going into hyper-speed
The theory of interconnectedness and technology was quickly becoming a reality in the '60s and '70s and PCB assembly was a big reason why. After the Institute of Printed Circuits formed in the late '50s, multi-layer PCBs began hitting the market.

These were soon followed by the standard red and blue wired line method in the '70s, according to RPCB. Sizes began to become smaller as soldering and liquid photoimageable masks were introduced to the process - both considered industry-wide practices.

As computers started to hit the market for citizens, an inverse effect began to occur. Materials for PCB assembly became much more affordable for the manufacturer as designs became smaller and more complex.

Throughout the '90s PCB manufacturing took off, and the industry saw revenue rise to $10 billion in 2000. This was when high speed signals began to be used as well, PCB Train reported.

Now we find ourselves in the modern era of PCBs, where lean assembly methods are becoming essential for the proliferation of miniaturization. It will certainly be interesting to see what the next 50 years brings to the industry.

Topics: Military, News, Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Written by VR Industries