How to Use a Breadboard

Contributors: M-Short, JoelEB

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History

If you wanted to build a circuit prior to the 1960s, chances are you would have used a technique called wire-wrap. Wire wrap is a process that involves wrapping wires around conductive posts attached to a perfboard (a.k.a. a protoboard). As you can see, the process can get rather complex very quickly.Although this method is still used today, there is something that makes prototyping much easier, breadboards!

wire-wrap circuit

A wire-wrap circuit (image courtesy of Wikipedia user Wikinaut)

What’s in a Name?

When you picture a breadboard in your head, you may envision a big piece of wood and a large loaf of freshly baked bread. You wouldn’t be too far off either.

A literal breadboard

Bread on a breadboard

So why do we call this electronic “circuit builder” a breadboard? Many years ago, when electronics were big and bulky, people would grab their mom’s breadboard, a few nails or thumbtacks, and start connecting wires onto the board to give themselves a platform on which to build their circuits.

Circuit built on literal breadboard

Circuit on an “original” breadboard (image courtesy of mischka and their awesome literal breadboard tutorial)

Since then, electronic components have gotten a lot smaller, and we’ve come up with better ways to connect circuits, making moms all over the world happy to have their breadboards back. However, we are stuck with the confusing name. Technically, these are still breadboards, but this discussion is going to be on modern, “solderless” breadboards.


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