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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, the boards can be reused for future jobs. Breadboards can also be used to create one-of-a-kind systems, although commercial products placed on printed circuit boards are typically much more robust and can handle greater frequencies.

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

A Motherboard Breadboard
In this breadboard, the components are plugged in on the top (top image) and wired together underneath (bottom image). This is the prototype of the first IBM PC motherboard in 1981. After the circuits were thoroughly tested, the wires were turned into printed circuits on the final product. (Image courtesy of IBM.)