ERNIE celebrates 55th birthday

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AS the crowds flock to London to mark the Queen’s Diamond jubilee, another British institution is celebrating a milestone.

ERNIE, the Premium Bonds winning numbers generator, is marking its 55th anniversary. Since ERNIE drew the first Premium Bonds prize on June 1, 1957, the generator has created 269 millionaires and paid out more than £13.9bn worth of prizes.

A woman from Hereford and Worcester became ERNIE’s latest millionaire in the June 2012 draw. ERNIE has moved with the times: the top prize has changed from £1,000 to the current £1m jackpot, and while the first version of ERNIE, took up to 50 hours to complete a draw, the latest model, ERNIE 4, takes around five hours.

John Prout, retail customer director, at NS&I, said: “Over the years ERNIE has become a part of the fabric of British life.”