Counting tubes, circuitry & accessories

Numerical Indicator (Nixie*) Tubes.

* Nixie is a registered trademark of Burroughs Corp.

Although the term 'Nixie' is a trademark, it has come into the English language as a generic term for cold-cathode gas-discharge numerical and symbol indicator tubes. The name was coined as a vocalisation of the Burrough's experimental tube designation 'NIX1', which is in turn a contraction of "Numerical Indicator eXperimental type 1". Such tubes are no longer manufactured by the big electronics companies; but they were made in large quantities from the mid 1950s until the mid 1970s, and are consequentially not difficult to obtain. Storage life of the tubes is virtually unlimited (the author has 80 year old gas discharge tubes that still work perfectly), and they can be expected to last for 20 - 50 years in intermittent use, provided that they are not operated at excessive currents (the cathodes slowly evaporate and blacken the bulb), and provided that all cathodes are illuminated periodically to prevent cathode poisoning.

Note: None of the items described on the following pages are for sale. The information is provided to assist in collecting, salvaging, and using the tubes and their accessories.

Nixie Tube Gallery
Nixie Tube Data: Mullard
Nixie Tube Data: ITT / STC
Nixie Tube Data: Misc (RS, NEC)
Sockets and Holders.
The 74141 BCD to decimal decoder and tube driver IC.
Power Supplies and Tube Operation.
Nixie frequency readout for single-conversion radio receiver.
Nixie frequency readout for the Racal RA17
(see part 4).

Nixie Tube Equivalents or Near Equivalents

ITT / STC Mullard or
Hivac Rodan National Burroughs
GN4 ZM1020 GR10M    
GN4A ZM1022      
GS4 ZM1021      
GS4A ZM1023      
GN6 ZM1080 XN3    
GN6A ZM1082      
GS6 ZM1081      
GS6A ZM1083      
5870S ZM1332   GR116D NL5870ST
ZM1162 8422 (B5991)

Andy Cowley's counting tube photographs

Nixie tubes Segmented displays

counting tubes)
A Dekatron

RF bulk gas ionisation.

Related web sites:
Mike's Electric Stuff.
jb-electronics (in German)
Bob's electron bunker . Nixie display driver.
Vintage calculator displays.
Bringing Nixie tubes back to life - Dalibor Farny

Donberg Electronics (current and replacement electronic parts, including 74141)
Sphere Research (Nixies, CRTs, useful links for vintage electronics enthusiasts).

Last updated: Sept 30th 2021