The Nixie Tube Story: The Neon Display Tech That Engineers Can’t Quit

How the neon-filled glow lamps came to hold a special place in enthusiasts’ hearts

12 min read
Photo of a clock featuring modern-day Nixie tubes made by Dalibor Farny.

Nixies Reborn: This clock features modern-day Nixie tubes made by Dalibor Farny. The Czech engineer has revived the manufacture of the distinctive display devices, which had their heyday in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Photo: Dalibor Farny

On a cold December morning in the Czech village of Březolupy, a man stops his truck in front of a 17th-century castle. He puts on some heavy gloves, steps out of the truck, and opens the back hatch. Carefully, almost lovingly, he unloads crate after crate of heavy equipment and supplies—an industrial glass lathe, a turbomolecular vacuum pump, and glass. Lots and lots of glass.

The man is Dalibor Farny. In 2012, Farny began working to revive the manufacture of a display technology called the Nixie tube, the last commercial examples of which were produced when he was still a child.

Keep reading... Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Medal of Honor Goes to Microsensor and Systems Pioneer

The UCLA professor developed aerospace and automotive safety systems

3 min read
Photo of a man in a blue jacket in front of a brick wall.
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

IEEE Life Fellow Asad M. Madni is the recipient of this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor. He is being recognized “for pioneering contributions to the development and commercialization of innovative sensing and systems technologies, and for distinguished research leadership.”

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Video Friday: An Agile Year

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Video Friday: An Agile Year

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less