OBE for Frank Land

Frank Land, a leading member of the LEO team, who then went on to become the UK’s first professor of Information Systems, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List published today. The award is for services to the Information Systems industry.
At the age of 90, Land, born Landsberger in Berlin, who came to England as a young boy fleeing Nazi Germany, expressed his delight at receiving the award which he sees as “a sign of recognition of the LEO contribution to information systems.” Continue reading “OBE for Frank Land”

LEO Computers Society Reunion, April 7th 2019

The LEO Computers Society 2019 reunion was held on Sunday, 7th April 2019 at the Victory Services Club, Marble Arch. With an attendance of around 80 including some invited guests, the event gave members the opportunity of catching up with colleagues – some from as long ago as the 1950s, including at least half a dozen who had actually worked on LEO I, the world’s first business computer. The Society is in partnership with the Centre for Computing History, Cambridge (CCH), working together on a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) project to preserve, protect and promote LEO’s story.

Continue reading “LEO Computers Society Reunion, April 7th 2019”

Validity & Correctness Before the OS

Validity and Correctness Before the OS: the Case of LEO I and LEO II
Rabia Arif, Elisabetta Mori, Giuseppe Primiero
in
Reflections on Programming Systems. Historical and Philosophical Aspects
Edited by Liesbeth De Mol and Giuseppe Primiero
Springer, 2019

Efficient and reliable computing is based on validity and correctness. Techniques to ensure these essential features have been in place since the early days of computing. The present study focuses on the hardware testing, data validation and program correctness techniques designed and implemented for LEO I and II machines in the UK during the 1950s. Continue reading “Validity & Correctness Before the OS”

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 & 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 & 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

Peter-Bird
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

leo-plaque-01
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

leo-i-captions
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.