Sixty-five years ago today, the first Premium Bonds prize draw was held on 1 June 1957, with a top prize of £1,000. June 2022 will be the 781 st Premium Bonds prize draw and ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment), the machine that generates the winning numbers, has now paid out more than 562 million prizes worth £22.9 billion. Today, the top prize is £1 million.

Premium Bonds have continued to evolve over the years. Today, the minimum purchase is £25 and all adults can purchase Bonds for children up to 16. The way that people receive their prizes has also changed, with more than 90% of prizes being paid directly into customers’ bank accounts or reinvested into more Premium Bonds.

To mark the 65th anniversary of the first draw, NS&I is releasing archive imagery. The imagery celebrates the history and heritage of Premium Bonds throughout the decades, illustrating how they have been part of everyday British life. Imagery from the first draw, ERNIE through the years, celebrity cameos and early Premium Bonds advertising are all included below.

High-resolution imagery can be provided by the NS&I media team ( mediateam@nsandi.com).

Jill Waters, NS&I Retail Director, said: “June is a double celebration with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and 65 years of Premium Bonds draws. For 65 years, Premium Bonds draws and ERNIE have been a part of peoples’ lives. The sense of anticipation and expectation that rippled across the nation in 1957 is still present among our customers today as they wait with bated breath for the results each month.

“What better way to wish ERNIE Happy Birthday than to delve into our archives and celebrate the heritage and history of the nation’s favourite savings product.”

Last week NS&I announced that the Premium Bonds prize fund rate will increase from 1.00% to 1.40%, effective from the June 2022 prize draw. This means that Premium Bonds customers will get the chance to win a further 1.4 million tax-free prizes each month, with the continued peace of mind that 100% of their NS&I savings are backed by HM Treasury.

Imagery from the first draw

PB first on sale


Premium Bonds took the nation by storm, with people flocking to buy them. By the end of the first day on sale, more than £5 million worth of Premium Bonds had been purchased by the British public.

Photo credit: NS&I archive



image 2 NS&I Ernest Marples, Paymaster General, starts the first ever Premium Bonds Draw on 1 June 1957.

Photo credit: NS&I archive






Lord Mackintosh of Halifax holds up the first winning Bond number at the first ever Premium Bonds prize draw in Lytham St Annes on 1 June 1957.

Photo credit: NS&I archive





image 4


The Chancellor at the time, Harold Macmillan, points at a £1 Premium Bond certificate at the launch of Premium Bonds in November 1956.

Photo credit: NS&I archive





image 5


Harold Macmillan marks the launch of Premium Bonds by making a speech on 1 November 1956.

Photo credit: NS&I archive




image 6

Bruce Forsyth starts the Premium Bonds draw on ERNIE’s 6th birthday in 1963.

Photo credit: NS&I archive





image 7

Even celebrities of the day showed their love for ERNIE, with Judi Dench signing a photograph for the random number generator after a speech in Stratford on Avon, 1 May 1962.

Photo credit: NS&I archive





Advertising for Premium Bonds:

image 8

Norman Wisdom encourages people to start saving with Premium Bonds in an early advertising poster from 1957.

Photo credit: NS&I archive









image 9


By the end of its life, ERNIE 1 took almost three days to complete the Premium Bonds prize draw. The first ERNIE was in service from June 1957 until January 1973.


Photo credit: NS&I archive






ERNIE’s second incarnation was more than 30 times faster than ERNIE 1. ERNIE 2 was in service from February 1973 until August 1988.

Photo credit: NS&I archive




image 11


In-service from September 1988 until March 2004, ERNIE 3 took less than six hours to complete the monthly Premium Bonds prize draw.

Photo credit: NS&I archive





image 12


Futuristic-looking ERNIE 4 could generate 1 million numbers per hour. The machine was in service from April 2004 until February 2019.

Photo credit: NS&I archive



image 13


By the end of its lifespan, ERNIE 4 was taking eight hours to complete the monthly prize draw. ERNIE 5 now does this in around 17 minutes. ERNIE 5 has been in service since March 2019. ERNIE 5 uses quantum technology instead of thermal noise, which was used by previous iterations of ERNIE.

Photo credit: NS&I archive



Notes to Editors

1. NS&I has spokespeople available for interview, including Agent Million, as well as a wealth of national and regional facts and figures about Premium Bonds. If you require any further details, please contact the NS&I media team on the contact details below or tweet your question to @nsandi

2. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

3. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of savings and investments to 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital security as NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.

4. NS&I announced changes to the Premium Bonds prize fund rate on 24 May 2022. The Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.40% and the odds of each Bond number winning any prize are currently 24,500 to 1. The prize fund rate and the odds of winning are variable, so they can change from time to time.

5. Pictures of ERNIE 5, the previous ERNIEs and Premium Bonds, including the Premium Bonds app, are available in high-resolution jpeg format from the NS&I media team.

6. Further information on NS&I, including press releases and product information, is available at nsandi-corporate.com. Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi or join the conversation on Facebook: NS&I.

7. All images are available to download

NS&I media team


Sam Faulkner

07814 859 160


Sara Brown

07583 139 113


Out of hours: All numbers above diverted to staff mobile phones

Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi

Website: nsandi.com