The British Computer Society (BCS) and Computing ran their Annual IT Innovation awards event at the Evolution Centre in Battersea Park on Wednesday 8th Nov evening. One prize was for IT Innovation in the Charities Sector and this was won by Plant Heritage with LEO Computers Society and The Centre for Computing History (CCH) as runner up (Highly Commended) for the Virtual LEO I. The event was attended by Peter Byford, Bernard Behr, John Paschoud and Vince Bodsworth of the LEO Computers Society and more will be in the upcoming Newsletter as a Stop Press. Announcement Read all about Virtual LEO I here
A recording of the launch event can be viewed here
The LEO Computers Society and partners Centre for Computing History are delighted to announce that their film about LEO, the world’s first business computer has won the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) Video of the Year Award 2022.
LEO, otherwise known as the Lyons Electronic Office, was a pioneering British computer developed in the early 1950s by J. Lyons & Co., famous for tea, cakes and the teashops that were once part of the fabric of British life.
The film was commissioned as part of a lottery-funded project ‘Swiss Rolls, Tea & the Electronic Office’, which is preserving, cataloguing and making accessible the heritage of this remarkable machine so as to raise awareness of this relatively unknown British story.
Judges commented that the film was “an absorbing and textured piece with excellent and evocative archive footage”. It aims to introduce a whole new generation, from secondary school age upwards, to the remarkable story of the birth of a technology that, today, we take for granted.
Lisa McGerty, manager of the project said: “We’re honoured to have had the LEO film we commissioned – and which was expertly made by Richard Hollingham and Jamie Partridge of Boffin Media – recognised as the Association of British Science Writers’ Video of the Year. LEO’s story really is remarkable and it is a privilege for us to work with some of the surviving pioneers on this project, as well established film producers like Boffin. The first LEO computer was an astounding feat not just of engineering but also of vision by a company that had the foresight to recognise just how computers could revolutionise business at a time when computers didn’t really exist. Everyone should know about it.”
Notes 1. The film has been created by Boffin Media, an award-winning production company specialising in science and space. The Producer is Richard Hollingham and the Director is Jamie Partridge.
2. The LEO Computers Society is committed to promoting and protecting LEO’s history. Membership of the Society is open to all ex-employees of LEO Computers and its succeeding companies, anyone who worked with a LEO computer and anyone with a specific interest in the history of LEO Computers. Among its members are pioneers from the very early days of computing and membership is currently free of charge. Visit www.leo-computers.org.uk. Follow @leocomputers51.
3. Established in 2006, the Centre for Computing History is a charitable heritage organisation with a strong focus on learning. Since opening in Cambridge in August 2013, the Centre has helped people understand how tech has shaped the modern world and revolutionised the way we live, work and play through interactive displays and exhibitions, our schools programme, learning events and workshops, and an astonishing collection of computers old and new. Visit www.computinghistory.org.uk. Follow @computermuseum
4. Using money raised by the National Lottery, The National Lottery Heritage Fund inspires, leads and resources the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
For further information on the museum, the Society, the LEO project or for images, please contact: Lisa McGerty (firstname.lastname@example.org, 01223 214446 / 07825 794791) or Peter Byford (email@example.com, 07944 038489).
Jason Fitzpatrick the CEO of the CCH gave LEO Computer Society members a virtual tour of the exhibits at the Museum on 27th April. The meeting was held on Zoom and recorded for those who wanted to attend but who were not able.
The recording is now available on this Website and can be viewed by following the link above. In addition an updated version of LEOPEDIA as at 30th April has been also uploaded to the Website
The Zoom Video can be viewed by following This Link and the updated LEOPEDIA Here
REUNION and LEO Exhibition: Sunday, 10th April 2022
From midday at the Victory Services Club, Marble Arch, London W2 2HF. As usual this will be an opportunity to meet old friends and colleagues and others with an interest in early computing. There will be refreshments and exhibitions of LEO related materials – as well as the usual raffle! Details to follow in the new year.
Tickets (to include a light lunch) cost £27 if bought before 31st January 2022 (£30 thereafter.)
To download a form to send with your application and with payment details click here
September 1951 – At J. Lyons & Co on Wednesday, 5th September 1951 the Bakery Valuations programme was run to completion on real data as an experiment to test the hardware. As noted in Ernest Lenaerts notebook for that date it ran from 3:50 to 5:35 without a fault and was the longest run of any programme at that time.
The BBC programme Antiques Road Trip made a stop off at Cambridge to visit the Cambridge Computer History Museum and interviewed Jason Fitzpatrick the Museum founder. Jason covered many interesting topics including early calculators, EDSAC, LEO and the BBC Micro and ARM chips.
The Presentation that Neville Lyons gave on the LEO Computers Society Zoom on 13 May 2021 is now on YouTube
2021 marks LEO’s 70th Anniversary Year – unfortunately the Trustees felt they had to postpone the Reunion from 2021 but replace it with a series of Zoom events to celebrate the events of 1951 (see the post on the new Zoom dates) The new date for the Reunion at the Victory Services Club is Sunday, 10th April 2022
There is a revised date for our Reunion – Sunday, 10th April 2022. Details will follow
On 15th February 1951, a LEO diary note read: ‘It can be said that on this day, LEO performed its first programme before HRH Princess Elizabeth.’
LEO I was still under development at that time but later in 1951 LEO ran its first programme.
The Society Secretary wrote to the Queen earlier and received this reply a few days ago.
Ernest Lenaerts who was one of the designers of LEO I kept a detailed diary with technical notes and recordings of events left the following entry in his record of 16 February 1951 16-2-51 HRH was no more and no less impressed than I had expected. The information printed by the Teleprinter was unintelligible except of course for the message printed at the bottom which provided some light relief. Fortunately LEO made few mistakes – obviously not subject to stage fright and the Demo went off smoothly. A little more interest was shown I think in the interior of the machine when she saw the complexity of the circuits – how many of this machines like these in existence? Only one other in working condition – No others on commercial clerical problems. This auspicious occasion called for an enormous improve in general tidyness of the lab and I must make an effort to preserve this. My own desk was clear for the occasion – the first time in months. Work on the machine can go ahead again and I have been given a more or less free hand to proceed on which problem I deem the best tackled first. The object will be to bring the machine to full operating condition as soon as possible so that Caminer & Co can get [[weaving]] on some of the programmes that they have kept up their sleeves for so long. The first and most obvious fault to be cleared is the corruption in the Teleprinter which I Think are due to breakthro in the output Unit. Other troubles to be cleared are occasional “1”s being added into the store. These have the effect of spoiling all of the test programmes received from Cambridge ”
Following the successful AGM using Zoom to hold the meeting online we have decided to try to have more regular meetings. The next one is on Mon 08-Mar 2021 10:30 GMT
J Lyons & Co was famous throughout most of the 20th century for its Teashops, Corner House Restaurants and food manufacture. Since 2008, Neville Lyons (relative of co-founder) has given more than 200 presentations covering the history of J Lyons, the development and manufacture of LEO, the world’s first business computer and Art in the Lyons Teashops.
Neville Lyons has participated in recent u3a radio podcast which covers J Lyons story, available on YouTube.
J Lyons & Co was famous throughout most of the 20th century for its Teashops, Corner House Restaurants and food manufacture. Since 2008, Neville Lyons ((relative of co-founder) has given more than 200 presentations covering the history of J Lyons, the development and manufacture of LEO, the world’s first business computer and Art in the Lyons Teashops.
The Virtual LEO I model is now available to download to iPad and is available from the Apple App Store
More news on the availability of Virtual LEO 1 on Android devices can be seen on the new Website https://www.leo1.co.uk
Our virtual LEO I project with CCH is a finalist in the @bcs UK IT Industry Awards in the Charity Project of the Year category. We are very hopeful as it is a very innovative use of new technology to bring to life old technology for younger generations
LEO Matters Issue 13, June 2023 has been published and circulated to Members and others. It can be downloaded by following the download link on this page .
The recording of the Zoom that demonstrated the Virtual LEO I is now on the members section of the LCS Website and can be viewed here Virtual LEO I
Also the Video of the Zoom meeting in March when Richard Hollingham told the story of making the LEO movie is now on the Website LEO Movie
Interviewee: Ian Bruce DOB: 11 November 1947
Interviewer: Mike Hally
Editor: Tony Morgan and Frank Land
Role in LEO: Site engineer
Joined LEO (EELM): circa 1967
Date of Interview: 5th July 2017
Abstract: Left schoolin Edinburghaged 15 to be apprenticed to his father’s Radio and TV supply and repair shop. After 4 years, expecting to take over the business, his father sold the business leaving Ian to find a job. On seeing an advert by EELM for computer engineers applied, sat the aptitude test and was offered job of trainee Data Prep engineer, Assigned to work at CAV LEO III site in Acton. Subsequently took on computer maintenance with special skills in maintenance of magnetic tape. Worked on a number of sites including Post Office LEO 326 in Edinburgh and later on a range of ICL computers. Became team leader but retired when offered early retirement Fujitsu after 35 years service. Keen on sports and still active as a swimmer.