Thursday, May 17, 2012

Designer of office computer dies

The Lyons Electronic Office
Many people mistakenly assume that the first computer used for business purposes must have been deployed in the US. But, actually it was a computer called the Lyons Electronic Office, or LEO for short. It was developed by the British company J. Lyons and Co. to automate much of their clerical work. Lyons wasn't an engineering firm or an aerospace company, instead it baked cakes and pastries and ran a nationwide franchise of tea shops - very English.
    One of the designers of LEO has died, aged 89, and there is an informative obituary in the Guardian newspaper. The story of how a company that ran tea shops decided to build their own computer in 1947 and ended up creating one of Britain's first computing companies is a fascinating one, which is described in chapter 5 "Computers and Big Business" of The Universal Machine. This promotional film describes how Leo was built and operated.

from The Universal Machine

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