Let’s see how the circuit board has
progressed over the years by taking a look at some of the most important dates
in its history.
1. 1800s – Photosensitive coatings
The perfection of photosensitive coatings
was the earliest real development which would form a basis for the invention of
the circuit board and copper etching.
2. 1930s – First circuit board ever products
In 1936 Paul Eisler, a Viennese-born
inventor with a degree in engineering, invented the first printed circuit while
working in England for Plessey, an electronics, defence and telecommunications
3. 1948 – Airborne instruments
The United States declared that all
airborne instruments were to be manufactured from printed electronic circuits.
This helped to establish circuit boards and marked the first time they were
used on such a large scale.
4. 1940s/1950s – UK
government departments receive loan from NRDC
During and immediately following the war,
governmental departments became interested in the etched foil process. It
wasn’t until the early 1950s that the National Research Development Corporation
(NRDC) granted a loan to turn this interest into action.
5. 1950s – PCBs still too costly
At this time, electronic circuits were
wired by hand. PCBs – despite their reliability – were considered too expensive
to be a realistic alternative, costing almost twice as much as the traditional
6. 1960s – Advances in plating processes
Around this time plating processes were
invented which allowed hole walls to be plated. This invention spawned the rise
of double-sided PCBs, with multi-layered PCBs first being manufactured in 1961
in the United States.
7. 1970s – Circuit boards more widely available
PCB manufacturers now appear all over the UK, marking a
second boom in PCB production.
8. Late 1970s – Smaller PCBs manufactured
The advance of the hot air soldering method
meant that solder could be more accurately applied. The smaller holes and trace
work also became much smaller, allowing PCBs to become more densely packed.
9. 1980s – Computer-designed PCBs
Use of computer-aided PCB design becomes
increasingly common, although initial costs for the computer systems themselves
are still very high.
Later, computer-aided design produces more
refined results and becomes the method of choice.
10. Late 1980s – Surface-mount technology
Components can now be placed and fitted
directly into the surface of the PCB. This largely replaced the through-hole
technology of the 1950s.
These new PCBs are roughly one quarter of
the price of previous PCBs, and can be produced up to one-tenth of the size and
11. Late 1990s – Further advances
Advances in speed and signal integrity
further improve the performance of PCBs.