The name Nixie was derived by Burroughs from "NIX I", an abbreviation of "Numeric Indicator eXperimental No. 1." Hundreds of variations of this design were manufactured by many firms, from the 1950s until the 1990s.Nixie tubes ruled the display world from the late 1950s until the 1970s when LED displays took over the market space, but they are surprisingly popular with a part of the techy population today. Some folks just love that retro look. Just search the term "Nixie tube clock" with your favorite search engine or on eBay and see how many come up!
An email at work today led to this Kickstarter project, called the Smart Nixie Tube, that combines the retro look of the Nixie tube with today's hot experimenters' toy, the Arduino microprocessor experimenters' boards. The modular concept allows you string a number of these together to make displays with a large number of tubes.
Personally, this is a bit too "artsy" for me, and "vintage" stuff that's just there to be vintage doesn't really appeal to me, but ... they are nice looking and I can see the sense in learning to program them. Go read the Kickstarter page and watch the video. It's cool - and the whole idea behind Techy Tuesday is to show things that strike me as cool or even educational.