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1. one of the first units manufactured of a product, which is tested so that the design can be changed if necessary before the product is manufactured commercially
2. Biology the ancestral or primitive form of a species or other group; an archetype
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an actual person serving as a writer’s model for a character in a literary work. A literary character is far more meaningful than its prototype. The character created by the writer is so transformed that he no longer resembles the original. The prototype of Alesha Gorshok in L. N. Tolstoy’s story of the same name was a “holy fool” who worked as a cook at Iasnaia Poliana. But the figure of the Iasnaia Poliana “halfwit,” utilized as an element of a literary concept, became an important Russian peasant type, one that had awakened from patriarchal slumber to view the world in an aura of love and happiness. This type is in contrast with the old-fashioned, submissive Kar-ataev in Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

The literary character modeled after a prototype reproduces some of the prototype’s traits and reflects a personality type engendered by a certain era; it also represents the creation of a new personality with an independent existence. This explains why a literary character may in turn become the prototype for a category of persons in real life: an example is Turgenev’s women. Such a character may also become a prototype for a literary work of another era; an example is Griboedov’s Molchalin in the works of M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin.

The role of the prototype changes according to genre and literary school. The maximum identity with the prototype is found in documentary prose, but even here there is a substantial difference between the prototype and the literary character, reflecting the author’s personal viewpoint. This is seen in N. Ostrovskii’s How the Steel Was Tempered and in the sketch-type novellas of such writers as A. Iashin and E. Dorosh.


Al’tman, M. S. “Russkie pisateli i uchenye v russkoi literature XIX v.” In the collection N. A. Dobroliubov: Stat’i i materialy. Gorky, 1965.
Andronikova, M. I. Otprototipo k obrazu. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A model suitable for use in complete evaluation of form, design, and performance.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A first or original model of hardware or software. Prototyping involves the production of functionally useful and trustworthy systems through experimentation with evolving systems. Generally, this experimentation is conducted with much user involvement in the evaluation of the prototype.

A primary use for prototyping is the acquisition of information that affects early product development. For example, if requirements for human-computer interfaces are ambiguous or inadequate, prototyping is frequently used to define an acceptable functional solution. It is a method for increasing the utility of user knowledge for purposes of continuing development to a final product. Information obtained through prototyping is important to designers, managers, and users in identifying issues and problems. Prototyping conserves time and resources prior to the commitment of effort to construct a final product.

In many hardware and software development projects, the first prototype product built is barely usable. It is usually too slow, too big, too awkward in use. Hence, the term throwaway prototype is generally applied to describe this early use of prototyping. Usually this is due to lack of understanding of user requirements. There is no alternative but to start again and build a redesigned version in which these problems are solved.

A developmental prototyping approach for incremental design of subsystems is often used to reduce the risk involved in building a system-level prototype. In this prototyping environment an incremental approach to rapid prototyping of subsystems development is used. This provides for management oversight of the entire process to assure that resource usage is effective and efficient. Product assurance is implemented throughout the process to make certain that the prototype operation contains the necessary components to satisfy subsystem requirements. Requirements analysis is performed and reviewed, then incremental specifications are developed and reviewed, followed by design of the approved specifications, and completed by implementation of the product. See Model theory, Software engineering, Systems engineering

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A model suitable for evaluation of design, performance, and production potential.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
References in periodicals archive ?
(10.) Here Board economists obviously departed from the prototypal Banking School version of the doctrine.
Drawing attention to the methods mentioned therein for the king ("Konig") wishing conquest (vijigisu) over his neighboring states (samanta rajya, "benachbarte Staaten"), he then points to the advice given to the weak king, namely to "act finding shelter with a king superior to him or in an unassailable fort."(6) The relationship of this weak ruler, in whom Berkemer sees the prototypal samanta, to his overlord is, according to the author, what his own work is concerned with.
For the purposes of illustration, a prototypal MSA would function as follows: Assume that health insurance for a family of four purchased through an employer costs $4,800 per year.
The prototypal manager is male with male traits: aggressive, competitive and rational.
Emerson and Fuller founded The Dial (1840-44), the prototypal "little magazine" wherein some of the best writings by minor Transcendentalists appeared.
Like the platinum bar in Sevres, France, that is the prototypal meter, Chez Panisse is the measure of foodstuffs.
Describing his boyhood in the 1870s, Nock remembered that it was the freebooters carrying off the heaviest sacks of spoil who "were held up in the schools, the press, and even in the pulpit, as prototypal of all that was making America great, and hence as par excellence the proper examples for well-ordered youth to follow."
Thenjie's story does illuminate recent events, but there is a temptation to see her as the prototypal black activist.
This is probably due to the difficulty of the prototypal injection system in controlling the steady-state needle position at low lift values.
Prototypal diarrheagenic strains of Hafnia alvei are actually members of the genus Escherichia.