Celebration of the 90th Birthday of Frank and Ralph Land

On the 25th October, 2018, the Leo Computers Society held a celebratory lunch to mark the 90th birthday of Ralph and Frank Land, two of the most active members in the Society.

Frank Land became a programmer for LEO in 1952; later was appointed Chief Consultant for LEO Computers and its successors. He is Emeritus Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics.

Ralph Land joined LEO Computers in 1959; he was appointed General Manager for Eastern Europe for English Electric and, later, ICL. He was appointed a CBE “for services for export” in 1996.

The lunch took place at The Queen’s Head pub in Brook Green, Hammersmith, just up the road from where Cadby Hall – Lyons headquarters – once stood. Continue reading “Celebration of the 90th Birthday of Frank and Ralph Land”

Business computing seminar in Lille

Olivetti Elea 9003. Detail. Photo: Elisabetta Mori

Pierre Mounier-Kuhn
(CNRS, Université Paris-Sorbonne & Centre Alexandre Koyré)
De la mécanographie à l’Informatique de gestion

Elisabetta Mori (Middlesex University, London)
From Academia to Business: LEO computers and Olivetti.
Two case studies in the early European Computer Industry

Histoire et Philosophie de l’informatique et du calcul
MESHS, 2 Rue des Canonniers, 59000 Lille
Info: https://calcul.hypotheses.org/435

Elisabetta Mori
From Academia to Business: LEO computers and Olivetti.
Two case studies in the early European Computer Industry

A common pattern in the growth and development of early Western European computer manufacturers is the collaboration between academia and entrepreneurship. Very often early European computer companies established a joint venture with an academic environment – a university or a research institute. Continue reading “Business computing seminar in Lille”

Validity and Correctness in LEO I and II

Abstract of the presentation at the roundtable What is a (computer) program? at the prelaunch of the project PROGRAMme in Paris, at the CNAM – Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, on the 20th of October 2017.

The presentation is an historical reconstruction of the procedures to ensure validity and program correctness in the early examples of business computers: the focus of the talk is the hardware testing, data validation and program correctness techniques designed for LEO I and II in the UK during the 1950s. Continue reading “Validity and Correctness in LEO I and II”

Coping with the “American giants”

Abstract of the paper presented at the 4th HaPoC – History and Philosophy of Computing conference in Brno, 3-7 October 2017.

Coping with the “American giants”: mergers, relationships and attempted partnerships in the European computer industry in the early Sixties

During the 1950s, a fragmented computer industry grew up in Europe. After the enthusiasm and pioneering in a brand new business like computers, at the beginning of the 1960s these companies were weakened by several issues, such as the financial crisis and the pressure of  US competitors like IBM and General Electric. The investments in R&D  were not fully refunded by the income from machines sales after several years. The growth of a computer company, in fact, was often doomed by these costs and very often also by lack of proper marketing experience in a totally brand new field. Continue reading “Coping with the “American giants””

In memory of Peter Bird

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Peter Bird, a director of Lyons Computer Services, charted the food company’s pioneering introduction of computers. Source: The Guardian UK

Peter Bird worked for J. Lyons & Co. from 1964 to 1991. He published his book LEO: The First Business Computer in 1994 and later an extensive book about Lyons in 2000.
We met Peter Bird in October 2016 at his house in Wokingham. We had a productive day, discussing about his books on Lyons and LEO. A day full of hints and suggestions, going through his collection of photos of LEO people and machines. Peter passed away on the 16th August 2017. Continue reading “In memory of Peter Bird”

LEO plaque unveiling in London

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Professor Frank Land and Dame Stephanie Shirley. Photo: LEO Computers Society

On November 29th 2016 we attended the unveiling of a commemorative plaque for LEO – Lyons Electronic Office. The plaque is located in Lyons Walk, W14 0QH, former location of Cadby Hall, the factory complex and the headquarters of J. Lyons & Co and LEO I’s home in Hammersmith.

The engraved stone has been generously funded by Tony Morgan, who was Commissioning Manager at LEO Computers Ltd. and is now Technical Consultant to the LEO Computers Society.

Continue reading “LEO plaque unveiling in London”

Celebration of LEO I’s first routine job

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LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office). Source: Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick

On November 29th, 2016 LEO Computer Society will unveil a plaque commemorating LEO I on the 65th anniversary of its first business routine run in Lyons Walk, Olympia, London. The location is close to the former location of Cadby Hall, the major office and factory complex in Hammersmith, London, which was the headquarters of J. Lyons & Co and LEO’s first home.

Eric Schmidt and LEO computers at LSE

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On Friday October 14th, 2016 the London School of Economics hosted Eric Schmidt in a public conversation with Chrisanthi Avgerou, with title: From LEO to DeepMind: Britain’s computing pioneers.

Eric Schmidt, American software engineer and businessman, is the executive chairman of Alphabet, Inc., American multinational conglomerate founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and parent company of Google, among others. As an intern at Bell Labs, Schmidt did a complete re-write of Lex, a software program to generate lexical analysers for the UNIX computer operating system. From 1997 to 2001, he was CEO of Novell. In 2001 Eric Schmidt joined Google, where he served as CEO until 2011 and helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology.

Continue reading “Eric Schmidt and LEO computers at LSE”

From LEO to DeepMind @ London School of Economics

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LEO II/1 – Peter Wood at the tabulator and Kate Keen at the control desk. Source: Leo Computers Society

On Friday October 14th, 2016, 6.30-7.30 PM the London School of Economics is hosting the event:
From LEO to DeepMind: Britain’s computing pioneers, organized by the Department of Management LSE and LEO Computers Society.
Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt will discuss progress in CS education and digital skills, and the opportunities that flow from the next wave of British computing innovation in machine learning. Join Eric in conversation with Professor Chrisanthi Avgerou, Professor of Information Systems at LSE’s Department of Management and Programme Director of LSE’s MSc Management, Information Systems and Digital Innovation.

This event is free and open to all however a ticket is required: more info available on LSE website.

Paper presented @ HaPoP3

Hapop

A paper titled “Data Validation: a historical comparative study from the business computing industry” was presented by Rabia Arif and Giuseppe Primiero at the Third Workshop on the History and Philosophy of Programming, held at CNAM in Paris on 25th of June 2016. This paper represents the first results in the latest installment of the David Caminer Postgraduate Scholarship in Business Computing.