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A term used to characterize the configuration of mechanical or electronic components that cannot be changed by the user. It is also used figuratively to refer to similar situations in software, where the program does not permit altering the routing of data or other signals. The term actually predates these uses, and has been used to make the distinction between circuits that were wired by connecting lots of physical wires together between all the components versus putting the components on a circuit board where the connections were etched into the board. If you take apart a very old guitar amp, for example, you will find all the connections hardwired. Each component has one or more wires connected to its terminals that run to other components. In a modern design you will see components placed on a board. The other side of the board will have a (sometimes complex) series of “traces” that connect all the components together in a way that makes the device function. The hardwiring method fell out of favor because as designs became more complicated they were more difficult to build and much more difficult to service.

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