Nixie Tubes!

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, before the invention of LED and LCD displays, so-called Nixie tubes were one of only a few technologies cheap and compact enough to be used in electronic calculators.  They were fairly power-hungry, so their use was mainly confined to mains-powered desk machines.  A Nixie tube contains a stack of cathodes in the shape of the numerals from 0 to 9, and a wire mesh anode through which the cathodes can be seen.  A distinctive and consequent feature of the design is that the illuminated numerals vary in depth, with the furthest ones substantially obscured by those in front. In the case of the Remington immediately below, the 2, 6, 7 and 8 are noticeably brighter.


Sperry Rand Remington 1211

Serial No. 806801

Date: 1971

Capacity: 12 digits

Price paid (including postage): £31

This is a Sperry Rand Remington calculator, which is actually a re-badged Casio machine.


Canon Canola L163

Serial No. 301535

Date: 1971

Capacity: 16 digits

Price paid (including postage): £29.49

This machine is more capable than the Remington, featuring as it does a square root function and two memories (and 16 digits!).  The only fault with the machine is cosmetic – the +/= key is misaligned, but works fine.  It’s probably an easy fix, but I really don’t want to take the cover off a machine that is otherwise perfect.

I have another Nixie machine – an Anita 1011 – but since it last appeared on this site it has stopped working properly.  It will reappear here if I manage to fix it.


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