O site Hackaday.io publicou recentemente um artigo sobre o ERNIE – Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment, o computador que gera números aleatórios para as Premium Bonds, uma espécie de lotaria existente no Reino Unido.
Já existiram vários ERNIEs ao longo da história. Este, sobre o qual o artigo fala, foi criado nos anos 50 e substituído apenas em 1972. Como devem calcular, o engenho é enorme.
A significant effort was made to ensure that the draw was truly random, and the solution employed by [Flowers] and his team was thoroughly tested before each draw. The thermionic noise generated across a neon tube was sampled, and this random voltage delivered the truly random numbers used to generate the winning bond numbers. The machine’s construction is extremely reminiscent of its wartime predecessor, however it is as well to bear in mind that it owes this to the standard racking and paint used in British telephone exchanges of the day. Gone though are the octal tubes, and in their place are their more familiar miniature successors.
Vejam os vídeos.
Retrotechtacular: ERNIE [Jenny List, Hackaday.io]
Fotografia: Photo of ERNIE 1 the first premium bond number producing machine in the science museum, autor genie sob licença CC BY-SA 4.0