John von Neumann created the very first cellular automata in the 1940's, together with fellow mathematician Stanislaw Ulam.

The JvN algorithm supports 3 rules:

The original 29-state CA as created by von Neumann. To see how his rules work, load the simpler examples first: counter-demo.rle and cell-coders-demo.rle and read their pattern info (hit the 'i' button). For a more complex example, see read-arm-demo.rle which shows one component of von Neumann's original design, the tape reader. For a complete self-replicating machine within von Neumann's CA, open

An extension of JvN29 created by Renato Nobili in 1994. This rule adds three new states to allow signal crossing, allowing self-replicating machines to be greatly reduced in size. The example pattern construction-arm-demo.rle shows some of the crossing cells in action under this rule. The pattern NP-replicator.rle.gz shows the 1994 design that was the first implementation of von Neumann's vision of a self-reproducing universal constructor in a CA.

Created by Tim Hutton in 2008, this rule uses the same states as Nobili32 but has a slightly modified rule table. Examples golly-constructor.rle and Hutton-replicator.rle show what it can do.