NIMROD Computer at the University of Cambridge

The Nimrod computer was created in 1949 by John Makepeace Bennett, an Australian employee of the firm Ferranti and recent Ph. D. graduate from the University of Cambridge. It was designed exclusively to play the game of Nim, and was first presented at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

The Nimrod was a large box with panels of lights, with a raised stand in front of it with buttons corresponding with the lights, which in turn represented the objects the player could remove. The player would sit at the stand and press the buttons to make their moves, while one panel of lights showed the state of the game, and another showed the computer’s calculations during its move. The computer could be set to make its calculations at various speeds, slowing down so that the demonstrator could describe exactly what the computer was doing in real time.

The Nimrod was a significant achievement in the early development of computer gaming. It was the first digital computer designed specifically to play a game, and it showed that computers could be used to play complex games in a strategic and intelligent way. The Nimrod also helped to raise public awareness of computers and their potential for entertainment.

The Nimrod was not a commercial product, but it did have a lasting impact on the development of computer gaming. It inspired other computer scientists to develop games for computers, and it helped to pave the way for the more sophisticated and popular games that we enjoy today.

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