Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Inhuman Activity

Premium Bonds were described by The Archbishop Of Canterbury on their launch in 1957 as 'a cold, solitary, mechanical, uncompanionable, inhuman activity'*.

Electronic Random Number Indicating Equipment was invented to make the draw, and this was anthromorphosised (is there such a word?) to the catchier, friendlier and less cold, solitary and mechanical sounding ERNIE (above).

ERNIE picked the winners from his home in Lytham St Annes, taking a whopping fifty two days to complete the task. He used to receive cards and letters and poems from his public, who hoped that their flattering words might sway his machine logic to let them scoop the top prize of £1,000. Retired in 1972, ERNIE 1 now lives in the Science Museum, and is in a relationship with the Oramics Machine.

Above is ERNIE 2, who started work in 1973. Considerably quicker than his predecessor (he could complete the draw in under seven hours) he was pretty cool with his print outs and Data 70 type font, and still received his share of fan mail and marriage proposals.

Meet ERNIE 3, who took over the role in 1988. There's something 'Hi De Hi' about him and it was at this stage that his grip on the public consciousness began to slip. They even stopped announcing the results on telly.

Finally, say hello to ERNIE 4, the current model, installed in 2004. It processes a draw in two and a half hours. Nobody sends it as much as an e-mail these days, we're all too sophisticated for that now, although despite extra stiff competition from various lotteries and Foxy fucking Bingo** there are still twenty three million people regularly checking to see if their numbers have come up. The top prize is now a million pounds.

The Archbishop in question was Geoffrey Fisher, a Freemason / Head Teacher who presided over the Coronation and was portrayed in ex-pupil Roald Dahl's autobiography as a santicimonious hypocrite who viciously beat children as often as he could. Inhuman activity, indeed.

* * Note to Foxy Bingo. Please stop sending me e-mails, it doesn't matter how much money you give me to get started, I simply don't want to dob my virtual dibber anywhere on your tawdry site.

1 comment:

  1. Ernie 1 still looks good. A day at the Science is good for the soul. Thats what I say.