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The Story of LEO: The World’s First Ever Business Computer


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Hammersith Evening Lecture: The first ever state of the art business computer designed and manufactured in the UK. (6.45 for 7pm start: Please arrive promptly as folk wandering in 7:10, 7:20 and 7:30 are very disruptive)

Date and Time

19 February 2019 - 18:45-21:30


London, United Kingdom - icon_popup  (See map)


Organised by the UK - London local network.

About this event

The story of LEO is an extraordinary one. The first ever business computer was designed and manufactured, not by one of the electronics giants such as IBM, but by the caterers J Lyons & Co, better known for their Teashops and Corner House Restaurants, Swiss Rolls and Fruit Pies.

After World War 2, an upward trend in office costs made the company realise that some form of automation was essential for processes such as stock control and pay-roll. There was nothing available at this time to meet their needs and so, with the self-assurance and innovative spirit which had become their trademark, they set about designing and building their own computer. After just 2 years’ development, they produced an operational product in 1951, naming it LEO, aptly standing for Lyons Electronic Office. The Guinness Book of World Records was to include it as the first ever business computer. At the time, it was beyond anyone’s imagination that those involved in this project would be among the pioneers of today’s information technology.

About the speaker

Neville Lyons is a relative of the company’s co-founder, Joseph Lyons. With his illustrated presentation, he will describe how the project was conceived and progressed, the personalities involved and some of its main features. He will also show how some leading industrial companies and government departments seized upon the invention and purchased later versions of this new ‘electronic brain’. A video will be shown featuring some of the LEO pioneers who are still around to tell the tale.


Hammersith Evening Lecture: 6.45 for 7pm start:

Please arrive promptly as folk wandering in 7:10, 7:20 and 7:30 are very disruptive.

Continuing Professional Development

CPD logo declaring this event can contribute 1 hours towards your Continuing Professional Development

This event can contribute towards your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as part of the IET's CPD monitoring scheme.


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