Smoke testing refers to the first test made after assembly or repairs to a system, to provide some assurance that the system under test will not catastrophically fail. After a smoke test proves that "the pipes will not leak, the keys seal properly, the circuit will not burn, or the software will not crash outright," the system is ready for more stressful testing.
The term smoke testing is used in several fields, including electronics, computer software development, plumbing, woodwind repair, infectious disease control, and the entertainment industry.
The plumbing industry started using the smoke test in 1875.
Later this usage seems to have been forgotten, and the electronics industry believes it invented the term: "The phrase smoke test comes from [electronic] hardware testing. You plug in a new board and turn on the power. If you see smoke coming from the board, turn off the power. You don't have to do any more testing."