Nimrod (computing)

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Nimrod exhibit in the Computerspielemuseum Berlin

The Nimrod was a special purpose computer that played the game of Nim, designed and built by Ferranti and displayed at the Exhibition of Science during the 1951 Festival of Britain. Later, when the Festival ended, the computer was shown in Berlin. Due to its historical importance, famous German politicians were present including Konrad Adenauer, the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and Ludwig Erhard, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs.

It was the first digital computer exclusively designed to play a game, though its true intention was to illustrate the principles of the (then novel) digital computer for the public. A smaller replica of Nimrod has been built for the Computerspielemuseum Berlin.


Nimrod schematic.svg
1. Instructions panel: instructions that Nimrod follows during the game
2. Main panel: bulbs mirror the control panel (5) to show the process of the game to the observers; underneath the bulbs there is a legend describing the possible states of the game.
3. Panel shows the current calculations of the processor during slow game speed; a legend for this is located on panel (1)
4. Four bays holding the machine's valves (tubes). Each bay contains 120 valves, arranged as six blocks of twenty. (Only 350 of the installed valves were active in the computer; the others were just being 'burned in' to avoid early failure.)
5. Nimrod's control panel: demonstrator would typically sit on the side closer to the computer, while the player would sit on the other side of the desk.


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