Printed circuit boards are sets of organized electronic components “printed” using copper sheets and laminated onto a non-conductive substrate such as fiberglass.
Before PCB fabrication was even thought of, people used point-to-point construction. Point-to-point is a manual construction which is in direct contrast to printed constructions. Inventors have joined in to innovate the concept of circuitry, among whom are Thomas Edison and Paul Eisner, an Austrian inventor who was persecuted by the Nazis during the World War II for his Jewish roots.
PCB fabrication started way back in the 1930s when Eisner, unemployed and desperately trying to find a job, decided to play around with his talent for innovating and inventing. Living for a while by what little he got from his TV Patent (₤250), he rented a humble Hampstead boarding house. And in this Hampstead boarding house, he began further developing his idea of a printed circuit board. He presented it to a certain telephone company who liked the idea, but who eventually still preferred the more traditional manual wiring work because it was done by men and women
During World War II he was marked as an illegal alien and was therefore locked up, where in his jail cell he performed the first PCB fabrication to be recorded in history and fabricated what would become his most influential work and the prerequisite to one of the most revolutionary inventions of all time. He brought his PCB-using radio with him when he got out of prison and managed to find work in Henderson and Spalding, a music printing company.
His initial aim was to fix the company’s non-working Techno graph music writer but upon working, he found that he could use his earlier invention and eventually connected the two to finally fix the Techno graph. The company very much liked the idea and so took the patent from him after a signed contract which enables them power to take any patent made by their employers for just one pound sterling. Eisner, however, got 16.5 percent ownership of the Techno graph.
This incident is what started the PCB’s rise to fame, but Paul Eisner remained anything but famous and rich. Years later, the US Army saw the potential of the PCB to aid them in battling the flying bombs of the Germans so they took it and used them to create proximity fuses. After the war, the USA released the invention for commercial use where they mandated that all airborne instruments be made of printed circuit boards.
Paul Eisner gained little attention even with the release of his own invention and died in London on October 26, 1992. Posthumously, however, he was awarded much generously by Printed Circuit Design & Fab magazine by naming its Hall of Fame after him. He was awarded as well the Nuffield silver medal from the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Pour le Merited by the French Government.
Eisner’s PCB is virtually ugly compared to the printed circuit boards of today. It looked like upturned bottles of expired medicine, light bulbs and weird-looking pasta, much different from the PCBs of today that look like megacities on a small scale. Since their conception, the printed circuit boards have already undergone several evolutions in accordance with the rise of new technologies, but still the use remains basically the same.
Since 2012, the world market for PCBs have skyrocketed to an almost $60 billion dollar mark from its humble beginnings in that little Hampstead boarding house. The companies that offer PCB fabrication have as well skyrocketed in stocks and revenue over the years while the inventor died average and even forgotten. Such is the lot of today’s world.