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How It All Began

How It All Began

Paul Eisler (03/08/1907 Vienna-26/10/1992 London) invented the printed circuit board (PCB) and in February 1943, he applied for British Patent 639,178 "Manufacture of Electric Circuits and Circuit Components" in London. The reason why the Austrian did this in London was, he was half Jewish and had to flee from the Nazis. He spent the rest of his life in the UK.  (Book:  Paul Eisler My Life with Printed Circuits).

When radios were built at that time, tubes, resistors and coils were still connected to each other with individual wires. The many tangled wires in the radios of that time created what was called "bird's nests", something confusing and tangled. Eisler, on the other hand, wanted a neat system of ladder wires on one level. Something that could be printed, something that would be the basis for a mass production process.

In 1948, the public also learned about the idea of printed circuit boards, but the triumph of the printed circuit board did not begin until the principle of mass soldering by solder wave with liquid solder was developed.  Another important prerequisite for the inexpensive mass production of electronics.

But this development did not bring Eisler much. He and his Partner Harold V. Strong, did not have the financial success they initially hoped. Their company Technograph marketed the licences for printed circuit boards. Eisler, although on the board of the company, still did not become a rich man, because a monopoly for printed circuit boards could never be achieved.

Eisler was on the board of Technograph until 1957. He left the company in 1957. He was less disappointed by the lack of financial success than by the honour he did not received:  To be the originator of one of the most important inventions of the century

It was only in 1971, Eisler fought for it for a long time, that he was recognised as the inventor of the printed circuit. The last significant honour was bestowed on him even later: it was not until 1992 that the Institute of Electrical Engineers awarded him the Nuffield Silver Medal, shortly before Eisler died on 26 October 1992 at the age of 85 in a suburb of London.

What Eisler developed at the end of the 1930s is considered a milestone on the way to today's mass production of billions and billions of radios, televisions, washing machines and computers, in short, of all devices that contain electronics.

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