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The History of the Printed Circuit Board
JANUARY 1, 1900
News that work was beginning on the New York subway system was transmitted by Samuel Morse's telegraph key, which had first been used in America in 1844 to send a message exclaiming, "What hath God wrought!" Western Union Go. Was fifty years old, Alexander Graham Bell's telephone was twenty-four years old, and copper wires were being strung on every continent. Marconi had already transmitted messages across the Atlantic Ocean, but it would be a few years before Fleming would invent the first vacuum tube and the first diode (the Fleming valve); and years more before Lee De Forest would build the triode amplifier (Audion) to fully enable wireless broadcasting, for which Marconi would later share in the Nobel Prize for his contributions to wireless communications.
At the turn of the century, telegraph, telephone, and radio inventions were being recognized as practical devices for everyday use, and all these devices needed wiring connections. As the power of instant communications was realized, the inventions evolved into industries, creating an immense need for mass-produced circuitry. Telephone systems, with their hundreds of phone exchange lines, required PBX consoles, manual switching stations that allowed operators to quickly make connections. Increasingly complex radio circuits needed an alternative to tedious and error-prone wiring, if the technology was to become as widespread as the industry envisioned. From any source, the electronics industry sought circuit technology.Source(s): http://www.pcbuk.com/pcb-history.asp