A Machine called B.E.R.N.I.E.

I took this photograph last year whilst walking through a residential area of Edinburgh. I had actually spotted it the night before and snapped a shot on my iPhone as it was incredibly bizarre to see a bingo machine dumped on top of a waste bin. It got me thinking about who had it in their house and what events had taken place to for them to suddenly throw it out. The next day, praying it was still there, I returned with my Pentax SP500 to take a better picture.

Fast forward to earlier this year and I receive a message from Adam McCrory on Flickr, "my dad used to make these". I immediately went back to him to find out more.


Charles McCrory started as a TV engineer back in the seventies and made a device called a Stage Safety Unit after a friend of his was electrocuted on stage. From there he ventured into raffle machines called Spinners and then finally into bingo machines and creating the BERNIE (Bingo Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment). It was very successful but unfortunately the recession of the eighties worked against Charles and he eventually stopped production around 1984 and closed his business. He was the millionaire that should have been.

"What I love about your photo is it captures one of his greatest achievements (creating the BERNIE) and the subtle irony that it's ended up in the bin - it sums up his life in a strange sort of way"

I was touched that Adam shared the story with me - it turned a random object that I thought was "kind of cool" into something that mattered. After I first saw this bingo machine, I started to take more photographs of the random things I pass everyday, but hearing the background of it makes me look at them differently and consider the history of what I'm taking pictures of. It is proof that no picture is pointless as it will always mean something to someone.

Sadly Charles died on the 17th February 2011 and when looking at the iPhone photograph that I took the night before I noticed that it was dated the 16th February 2011. The next day, when Charles died, was when I returned to take the photograph above.