Nixie tube

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Nixie tube

(Numeric Indicator eXperimental-1) The first electronic digital readout. Developed by Burroughs in the 1950s, a Nixie tube is a vacuum tube filled with neon that contains 10 wires formed in the shape of the digits 0 through 9. The wires are attached to cathodes on one end and a wire mesh anode on the other. When voltage in the range of 170 to 250 volts is applied to the wire, it glows. Nixie tubes gave way to LED displays in the 1970s. See LED.


Nixie Tubes
Today, using old tubes and modern chips, some people build their own Nixie tube clocks such as this one. (Image courtesy of Mike's Electric Stuff, www.electricstuff.co.uk)
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"The Nixie tubes only display numbers so there's not much you can do with them other than make clocks.
All of the clocks are handmade and no two are ever exactly same but what they do have in common is that they include Nixie tubes powered by modern microprocessor technology.
Then, one day, as a hobby, he began to make a Nixie tube clock inspired by a calculator he remembered from his school days that used the 1950s technology for its display.
"One day I Googled number tube and it came up with Nixie tube. I found a kit to make a Nixie tube clock and decided to have a go," says Paul, who lives in Cannock.
Every item is full of possibility, says Paul, who with the help of Karen, currently makes around 250 Nixie tube clocks a year.
"There are generations who have never seen a Nixie tube before so they are fascinated by them and think they are cool.