Prototype is the term used to refer to what was first created, serving as model or mold for future productions.
In product development, for example, the making of prototypes is an essential part of the project, consisting of the phase where they are carried out practical tests with the product, before it can be made available for large-scale production and commercialization.
You car prototypes, for example, are used so that the engineers responsible for building the car can check some essential things that would be impossible to analyze from a mockup or digital simulation, such as aerodynamics or hydrodynamics of the device.
A prototype need not refer exclusively to physical products, but also to any kind of preliminary version of a system or software of computers that is in the testing phase, for example.
Learn more about meaning of software.
In the figurative sense of the word prototype, it can still mean the perfect illustration of the stereotype of a certain kind of thing or person.
Example: "Prototype of capitalist", "prototype of people", "prototype of husband", and so on.
See also:meaning of stereotype.