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Definition: 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)