The Nimatron was an electromechanical game that played the game of Nim against human opponents. It was first exhibited in April–October 1940 by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair to entertain fair-goers. It was created by Edward Condon, a nuclear physicist and pioneer of quantum mechanics, and his colleagues at Westinghouse.
The Nimatron was a very complex machine for its time. It had over 1,000 moving parts and used vacuum tubes to control its operation. It was also very large, measuring over 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
The Nimatron played a simplified version of the game of Nim. In Nim, two players take turns removing objects from a set of piles. The goal of the game is to be the last player to remove an object, leaving the other player with no objects to remove. The Nimatron played a version of Nim where there were three piles of objects, and each player could remove 1, 2, or 3 objects from a single pile on their turn.
The Nimatron was very popular at the World’s Fair, and it was even featured in a Time magazine article. It was so popular that Westinghouse decided to build a few more Nimatrons and put them on display at other fairs and exhibitions.
The Nimatron was eventually retired in the 1950s, but it is considered one of the first video games ever made. It was a precursor to the electronic games that we enjoy today, and it helped to pave the way for the development of computer gaming.