LEO remembered

In 2020 we published a letter in bps news on behalf of the LEO Computers Society, when it was seeking memories and memorabilia from people who had worked on LEO, the world’s first computer to run business applications.

The LEO society has recently published a book called LEO Remembered, consisting of reminiscences from around 80 individuals who were involved in LEO. The society secretary has kindly sent me the following information about the book, together with details about purchasing a copy.

The story of LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) is an extraordinary one. The world’s very first business computer was designed and manufactured, not by one of the electronics giants such as IBM, but by J Lyons & Co, better known for its teashops and corner house restaurants, its swiss rolls and fruit pies.

‘After the Second World War, upward trends in office costs made the company’s board realise that some form of automation was essential for processes such as stock control and payroll. There was nothing available at this time to meet their needs and so they set about managing the design and manufacture of their own computer, LEO.

‘The LEO ran its first live business application, a bakeries valuation job, in November 1951. Lyons retained this lead through most of the 1950s and early 1960s, setting up a company, LEO Computers Ltd, to further develop and sell LEO at home and overseas to blue-chip companies, including Shell-Mex and BP, and UK government departments. The story ended in 1981 when the last of the LEO computers, a LEO 326, one of a large number operated by the Post Office for telephone billing, was finally turned off.

‘LEO Remembered is available, priced £8 plus postage.
Please email Leoremembered@leo-computers.org.uk for ordering details.’

Share the Post: