Interviewee: Peter Wharton

Interviewer: John Daines

Date of Interview: 2nd November 2016        

Editors: David Phillips (P1) and Bob Marsh (P2)

Additional Editing: Frank Land (FL)
Joined LEO: 1962
Role in LEO: Programmer
Abstract:  After West Bromwich Grammar School and graduating with a maths degree from Leicester University. Following the advice of a friend who had become a computer programmer, responded to a LEO job advert, was called for an aptitude test at Hartree House.  Offered job as trainee programmer using CLEO, and with his background in maths was assigned to John Caldwell’s Mathematical Programming Group at Minerva Road. Worked on production of linear programming package for solving the transport problem principally for Shell.  Notes that unlike the programming groups at Hartree House the Minerva Road group had not adopted a setoff programming, testing and implementation procedures.  Moved to join programming teams in Hartree House, and in 1964 after merger with EE selected as member of EELM team to work on RCA Spectra 70 and in particular the design of multiprogramming software for what was to become System 4. Married fellow LEO programmer Sheila Milne.  On return to UK moved to Kidsgrove. With formation of ICL advanced rapidly at Company level rising to Chief Engineer working under Technical Director.  Became involved in collaborating with Universities including appointment as Visiting Professor at Southampton University and research collaborating with Durham University.
Repository :
Copyright: LEO Computers Society
Restrictions: None known

LEO Interviewee:   Ninian Eadie             DOB 15th March 1937

Interviewer:   Two Interviews, by ArchivesUK, and for LEO Oral History Project by John Ferguson plus a third memoir by Eadie himself. 

Date of Interview: LEO interview 6th July 2017
Joined 1960
Role in LEO: Joined LEO as a trainee programmer, rose rapidly in a variety of roles including teaching, defining CLEO, sales management in South Africa, managing the important Post Office project and taking senior management roles in EELM and subsequently ICL and Fujitsu. 
Left LEO, on 1967 merger to take senior roles in ICL
Education, prep school, Winchester, Balliol College, Oxford (PPE).  After National Service in the Navy joined LEO as trainee programmer.  His LEO career included teaching on training courses, joining LEO teams assisting customers like Cerbos, defining LEO III software, acting as sales manager for LEO’s joint  venture with Rand Mines in South Africa, and culminating in the role of Project Manager for the LEO III and System 4 Post Office project, the largest and most technically and politically project in LEO history.  Following the merger which created ICL in 1967, he took on a series of increasingly senior roles for ICL and its successor companies, including managing ICL’s international sales organisation, acting as assistant to ICL’s chief executive and under Fujitsu became (1993 -1996) Group Executive Director for Technology before retirement.  Amongst his outside interests he became an internationally recognised Dinghy racer. 

Repository ArchiveIT:  Ninian Eadie – Archives of IT (              Repository recording  and  edited transcript by John Ferguson:

Repository memoir:

DOB: 16th April 1928 
Interviewer:  Phillips
Date of Interview: 19/04/2022
Role in LEO: Trustee LEO Computers Society
Joined LEO: Joined LEO Computers Society as ‘friend’ in 2014
After a career as a Professional soldier, serving as adjutant while a junior officer and rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel,  found his metier in acting as a communicator.  Discovering his distant relationship to Joe Lyons and the Lyons food empire started compiling presentations to interested bodies like U3A, and Probus making 166 presentations in a period of a few years.  In the course of compiling the story of Lyons he discovered LEO, met LEO Computer Society people and started about 2014 telling the LEO story, and applied to join the LEO Computers Society as a friend. Subsequently became more and more involved compiling and making numerous presentations. Active member of LEO Computers Society.


Copyright: LEO Computers Society

Georgina Ferry has donated the unedited transcripts of the people she interviewed for her book A Computer called LEO to the Heritage Project of the LEO Computers Society.  The following interviewees are included:Anthony Salmon, Maurice Wilkes, David Wheeler, Murray Laver, David Caminer, John Pinkerton, Ernest Kaye, Ray Shaw, Derek Hemy, Peter Hermon, John Aris, Mary Coombs, Ralph Land, Frank Land (incomplete first half of transcript lost) 

Late last year we received the sad news that Ray Shaw, the last of the original LEO I design pioneers had passed away.

A copy of his Obituary can be found HERE. On 20th February John Daines presented material via Zoom remembering Ray and a recording of that can be found on the LEO Website

A Review By

Maurice Wilkes

Former head of Cambridge University Mathematical Laboratory

LEO Matters Issue 12, November 2022 has been published and circulated to Members and others via email. It can be downloaded by following the download link on this page .

Issue 12 includes the sad news that Peter Hermon, one of the best know and very talented IT professionals in the business, and a LEO Pioneer, died on 1st November 2022 and the Obituary from Computer Weekly is on the “In Memoriam” page and can be viewed here as well as a piece in Issue 12 itself.

A Review By

Robert M. Davison

Dept of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong Email:


Review of “LEO remembered—By the people who worked on the world’s first business computer”

Edited by Hilary Caminer and Lisa-Jane McGerty. ISBN: 978-1-3999-3359-9

Robert M. Davison

Dept of Information Systems, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong Email:

In this much revised and extended second edition, the editors have compiled a historical account with over 80 contributions from many of the people who were associated with the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) project from its inception in 1949 through the 1950s and 1960s. It hardly need to be said, but for those of you not in the know, LEO was the world’s first business computer. It is remarkable to realise that the events that surrounded the development of LEO took place over 70 years ago. The book includes archive photographs from the period.

The LEO story has been told many times, in print, and also in film: see the YouTube version at https://www. The historical background and early days of LEO are presented in a remarkably non-technical fashion in this extensive and charming set of recollections that collectively portray the LEO project as one of collective endeavour. The accounts in the current volume are illuminating and inspiring, but I have to emphasise that this book is more a collection of reminiscences than anything scholarly. Indeed, this is perhaps one of the most attractive features of the book—it allows the human side of LEO to flourish. Thus, in reading the text one witnesses the thrills (and spills) of working on a huge mainframe computer at the very dawn of the age of business computers. We read how ‘bugs’ flew through the window and got stuck in valves, of how rain was equally problematic, and how hardware problems could be fixed with a screwdriver. We have to remember that as pioneers in mainframe computers, the designers, programmers and other technicians were not able to refer to past practice elsewhere: my sense is that they relied extensively on ‘seat-of-the-pants’ logic and fixed problems as they arose to the best of their imagination and ability.

The overall effect of reading this book is to glean an unexpected insight into what it was like to work at the cutting edge of technological innovation, and as we look back, to realise that the innovations of that time inspired the innovations that followed all the way to the present day. I very warmly recommend this delightful book. You can obtain copies at ₤8 + postage from the LEO Computers Society. Please write to LEOremembered@leo-computers.

A LEO Computer Society Zoom was held on 19th November 2022 when Anna Ryten, a Partner in Architects Mountford Pigott, and Kerry Lemon, an artist retained to create an artwork about LEO and Lyons presented the proposals for the re-development of 66 Hammersmith Road. This development project includes substantial work to record and commemorate the history of the Lyons Company and the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) Computer.

To view a recording of the session click here

“LEO Remembered”  Review

Behind the glowing valves (“tubes”) and humming circuits lurks a great series of human stories to be told.  The new enlarged edition of “LEO Remembered” edited by Hilary Caminer and Lisa-Jane McGerty is a great collection of such LEO stories.  I found the book to be exceptionally well organized, clearly presented, and very enjoyable to read.  The historical data is interspersed with numerous vintage photos of people, places and equipment that created and evolved the LEO computers during the earliest days of electronic digital machines. The many first-hand accounts of those who worked closely on the early machines were truly fascinating.  The book presents a level of detail one does not normally find in a book about computer history.  I highly recommend this new book to anyone interested in the early beginnings of LEO business computers and the very human side of bringing these electronic marvels to life.

Mark Greenia, Director, Computer History Archives Project (CHAP)

If you want to order one or more copies go here