back to article LEO, the British computer that roared

Just graduated and looking for a career in computers during tough economic times? Try breaking into tech during the 1950s when most people hadn't even heard of a computer. Yet, that's exactly what brothers Frank and Ralph Land did and within a relatively short time from the closing of their studies at the London School of …


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  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    HR still wanted 5years experience of LEO55 before hiring them

    They were managed by somebody who couldn't work a slide rule and kept asking them for help to change a typewriter ribbon

    The whole project was cancelled by a board that couldn't see any future in this computer stuff and were putting their money into a new Broccoli flavoured cream cake that marketing said would be a hit with the children

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      HR ?

      Personnel in those days laddie!

  2. mhoneywell

    How splendid

    I'm really looking forward to this. Well done.


    Remember it well

    Looking forward to this. As my father, uncle, aunt and grandfather all worked for Lyons at Cadby Hall. Played tennis & cricket at Lyons Club, Sudbury Hill. Believe the 'Leo' dept was called 'STATS'

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spent a couple of happy years at Shell working on Leo III/6 and Leo III/14

    1. Mike 140

      I'll see your III/4 and raise you III/1 at Hartree House in Bayswater. There was LEO II/5 just across the corridor. Aah, happy days.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mouldy audience...

    Today, ladies and gentlemen, we have gathered the old folks. Admittedly, the room smells a bit mouldy at the moment, but the upside is that you may end up knowing more about computers than you'd ever wanted to know.

    Oh, and maybe you end up wanting to make things actually WORK rather than look pretty. We did more with the kind of power that you use to play games on your smartphone.

    OK, who fitted motors to my Zimmerframe? Come on?

  6. a pressbutton

    My dad worked on LEO sometimes

    He was a product development manager.

    Normally he worked on the bakery side (he was project manager on the team that invented carob).

    LEO was used to manage payroll.

    One day the printer run did not quite work - the payslips did not get separated.

    There was ~4 piles 2 ft high that needed to be separated.

    For some reason he was called in. So he made thin plywood templates, clamped the paper in a sandwich and got a saw out.

    - back in the days when debugging really did mean insects.

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I'm looking forward to the day

    when a few more UK companies are as well IT'ed up as Lyons was.

    Send me a nice document if you think that's more important than functioning stock control and I'll put it with the rest.

  8. David Roberts

    Just wandering past, but nobody has mentioned yet that the Post Office (sorry, was that BT?) ran their entire Telephone Billing system on the Leo 326.

    I was present when they turned the last Leo 326 off (complete with pyrotechnics from the ICL engineers).

    Another bit of trivia - the OS was ported to DME on the ICL 2960/66 because of threatened industrial action blocking the implementation of New Billing on ICL 2980/88 under VME/B so that come the revolution the original billing system could run on - on hardware several generations younger than the Leo systems.

    Hah - unions - you young feller me lads don't remember them, do yer?

    Well let me tell you, it was in the winter of '78 (or was it '79) and snowflakes the size of house were blowing across the moors......

    1. Steve the Cynic

      "I was present when they turned the last Leo 326 off (complete with pyrotechnics from the ICL engineers)."

      I think(*) part of those Leos wound up in our loft. The aluminium honeycomb panels on the sides of the racks were strong enough to walk on, so my dad brought them home to make access flooring.

      (*) It might have been some other Leos being decommissioned in the late-ish 70s.

      "Hah - unions - you young feller me lads don't remember them, do yer?"

      Ah, yes, unions. My dad's job was outsourced IT support, and one client was a closed-shop printing press. So my dad's company paid for his union card, because otherwise the client's staff would down tools until the non-union scab (my dad!) left. "Where's your card, brother?" ... "No card? Either you go or we go!"

  9. Dinky Carter

    My daddy was a LEO boffin! <puffs with pride>

    He wrote a payroll system for Ford Dagenham in 2k.

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