No disrespect intended to that team. It's an impressive accomplishment, and they're the ones who can publish in a journal for all due academic credit.
However, it also depends on what you value. Sometimes for some problems crossing the finish line first is winning, or seems able to simply allow the worlds technical advances to compound faster than more novel approaches whose future utility is unknown.
During all those years one person stopped to think about the goal in the most optimal way and ask, what's really the simplest solution here? Is custom hardware the only practical way? Everyone was allowed to think about implementation costs.
In other words, the most impressive part is what was not done. Great work.