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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



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.



A model suitable for use in complete evaluation of form, design, and performance.


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


A model suitable for evaluation of design, performance, and production potential.
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Kuebler's belief became a goal for John Deem Foundry as he set up the job that would prove the plant's ability to use traditional casting processes to produce an engineered cast component at a rapid prototype speed.
A designer can now quickly "print" a prototype and show it to engineering, sales, and marketing groups as well as to toolmakers.