A motherboard or mainboard is the name of the central printed circuit board (PCB) in personal computers. They hold most of the crucial components for the computer to function and provide connectors for peripherals.
Since their beginnings in the 1970s, motherboards have come a long way. They have shrunken in size and along the way revolutionized the way computers are designed today. The motherboard alone, in these days, is holding millions of transistors. But does anyone know, how the motherboard became, what it is today? Focusing on the ever next new big thing, we tend to be forgetful. Because, there are so many new and exiting technical devices coming out each month, we sometimes forget, where we have been before and the massive amount of work, which went into the development, that led us here.
Before microprocessors were even invented, computers were built in
mainframes, their components being connected by a backplane with a sheer
uncountable amount of slots for connecting wires. In these old days,
wires would go everywhere, but only until the PCBs were invented. Since
then CPU and memory got a fixed spot within this printed circuit board.
Then, during the 1980s and 1990s, people found out that by increasing
the number of peripheral functions on the PCB, capacity and energy could
be saved. This led to single Integrated Circuits (ICs) to become
capable of supporting peripherals, such as serial ports or mouse and
keyboards, which therefore were included on the motherboards. When the
new millennium approached, they developed a whole new set of functions,
such as audio and video storage or networking functions. Even later,
graphic cards and higher end systems for 3D gaming were included.
While motherboards are still constantly improving, it is hard to see,
where they might lead us within the next 20 years. Some people claim
that there will be a time when supercomputers as small as laptops will
be possible, all thanks to motherboards.