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The Lyons Electronic Office (usually referred to by the acronym, LEO; later referred to as the LEO I, after follow-ons were built) was a computer built by Lyons, a British chain of cafeterias; the first computer ever built for business applications.

It was a brave and audacious start for a company that ran corner tea shops; they decided in 1949 to investigate the computer for their office functions. Their work showed the path to the adoption of computers in businesses - the first non-mathematical task to which they had been put.

The design of their first computer was based on the EDSAC; an engineer from Lyons was seconded to the EDSAC project, and helped build it. Like the EDSAC, the LEO used delay line main memory.

There was a public announcement in "Electronic Engineering" of its running in production in April 1954, but it had at that time been under test and doing some government work for 18 months.

It was so successful that Lyons set up a subsidiary, Leo Computers, to build more of them.

Further reading

  • Peter John Bird, LEO: The First Business Computer, Hasler Publishing, Wokingham, 1994
  • David Caminer, Frank Land, John Aris, Peter Hermon, LEO: The Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1997
  • Georgina Ferry, A Computer Called LEO: Lyons Tea Shops and the World's First Office Computer, Fourth Estate, London, 2003

External links