This Article 
   
 Share 
   
 Bibliographic References 
   
 Add to: 
 
Digg
Furl
Spurl
Blink
Simpy
Google
Del.icio.us
Y!MyWeb
 
 Search 
   
Inventing Systems Engineering
July-September 2000 (vol. 22 no. 3)
pp. 4-15

The J. Lyons food and catering company in 1949 undertook an ambitious project known as LEO (Lyons Electronic Office). This created, for the first time anywhere, computer hardware and software for business applications. The author describes the history and applications legacy of this successful endeavor, using personal reminiscences and letters from one of LEO's founding participants.

1. , This paper is a revised and expanded version of one presented, and published under the same title in Proc. Kiev Symp. Computers in Europe: Past, Present, and Future, Int'l Charity Foundation for History and Development of Computer Science and Tech nology, 1998
2. D. Caminer et al., LEO—The Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1998. (UK edition: User-Driven Innovation, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead, 1996.)
3. P. Bird, LEO, the First Business Computer, Hasler Publishing, Wokingham, 1994.
4. The background is examined more closely in J. Hendry, "The Teashops Computer Manufacturer," Business History, Vol. 29, No, 8, 1986 and in F.F. Land, "The First Business Computer: a Case Study in User-Driven Innovation,"Proc. Kiev Symposium, 1998, and in this Annals issue.
5. Cambridge University gave the title of "Wrangler" to its top mathematics graduates.
6. J.R.M. Simmons, LEO and the Managers, Macdonald, London, 1962. p. 25.
7. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
8. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
9. D. Caminer, "LEO and Its Applications: The Beginning of Business Computing," Computer Journal, Vol. 40, No. 10, 1997.
10. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
11. D. Caminer, "...And How to Avoid Them," Computer Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1958.
12. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
13. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
14. These systems are described in F.F. Land, "Systems Analysis for Business Applications," Resurrection, Summer 1996.
15. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
16. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
17. Fascinating material on the early days of programming, supplied by Derek Hemy, will be found in Bird, op. cit., pp. 52-62.
18. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
19. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
20. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, May 1998.
21. "Electronic Abacus," The Economist, March13 1954, pp. 789-791.
22. Comparisons between LEO and modern practice can be found in J.B.B. Aris, "Systems Design—Then and Now," Resurrection, Summer 1996.
23. The wider question of why LEO did not sustain its world lead in business computing to become a dominant supplier is intriguing but beyond the scope of this paper. It is the subject of a so far unpublished note from Caminer, dated 19 July 1998, to the author.
24. Notefrom Caminer to Aris, August 1998.

Citation:
John Aris, "Inventing Systems Engineering," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 4-15, July-Sept. 2000, doi:10.1109/85.859522
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.