Magic Smoke

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Short Definition

Belief that electronic devices contain 'magic smoke' that escapes when the device is overloaded (ie burned out).

When an electronic device (LED, transistor, computer chip, or DCC decoder) is electrically overloaded you sometimes get a whiff of something burning-- and you might actually see a puff of smoke rising from the remains of the device. There is a sentiment in the world of electronics that this is "Magic" smoke. It is sealed into the electronic device at its manufacture, and "letting the magic smoke out" is a way of saying that the device has been electrically destroyed.