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Definition: switch

(1) A network cross connect. See Ethernet switch.

(2) In programming, a bit or byte used to keep track of some event. The term is sometimes synonymous with the branch command.

(3) In programming, a statement that saves the programmer from having to write multiple compare statements. See event loop.

(4) A modifier of a command. For example, in the Windows/DOS command dir /p the /p is a switch that modifies the Dir command to pause after each screenful. See Dir.

(5) A mechanism that allows each key to be depressed on a keyboard. See mechanical keyboard.

(6) A mechanical or electronic device that directs the flow of electrical or optical signals from one side to the other. Switches with more than two ports, such as a LAN switch or PBX, are able to route traffic. See transistor, Ethernet switch, softswitch, PBX and data switch.

With regard to a simple on/off switch, remember... Open is "off." Closed is "on."

Mechanical and Semiconductor Switches
The semiconductor transistor performs the same function as a light switch on the wall. The switch is electronically closed by sending a pulse to the trigger. See transistor.

A Manual Switch
This early switch panel from New York Electric Switchboard Company was used to manually open and close electric lines.