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Definition: breadboard

A thin plastic board used to hold electronic components (transistors, resistors, chips, etc.) that are wired together. Used to develop prototypes of electronic circuits, breadboards can be reused for future jobs. They can be used to create one-of-a-kind systems but rarely become commercial products. See printed circuit board.

The breadboard contains spring clip contacts typically arranged in matrices with certain blocks of clips already wired together. The components and jump wires (assorted wire lengths with pins at both ends) are plugged into the clips to create the circuit patterns. The boards also typically include metal strips along the side that are used for common power rails and signal buses.

In this breadboard, both components and jump wires plug into the top. (Image courtesy of 3M Company.)

A Motherboard Breadboard
In this prototype of the first IBM PC motherboard, the components are plugged into the breadboard (top) and wired together underneath (bottom). After the circuits were thoroughly tested, the wires were turned into printed circuits on the final product. See IBM PC. (Images courtesy of IBM.)