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2 posts • joined 27 Sep 2011

Blighty's revolutionary Cold War teashop computer - and Nigella Lawson

Emeritus

Thanks for an excellent reminder of the early days of computing. But

one correction. In the early when LEO was launched on the world I was a

trainee and junior programmer. The people who led the team to the

applications and who taught me were the genius of a programmer Derek

Hemy, Leo Fantl, John Grover and a little later another genius John

Gosden. But it was David Caminer who had the most prominent and

effective role on the systems and programming side until the demise of

LEO. You give me too much credit - there were a number of heroic figures and

it was a privilege to work with them.

Frank Land

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David Caminer, creator of the first business computer

Emeritus

Remembering LEO

The point is that November 1951 was the month in which the first time critical business application was rolled out. The computer had been delivered and readied for operational use well before that date.

In this exellent article due credit is given to the role played by David Caminer. But if we are to pay tribute to the innovators who made LEO possible we must note T.R. Thompson, and Oliver Standingford and John Pinkerton. Thompson was Simmon's deputy and he and Oliver Standingford visited the USA in 1947 not to check out computers but to see if there had been any interesting developments in business process engineering (as it is now sometimes called). They came across computers and quickly recognised their potential for solving business proceess problems. Indeed they sketched how a computer could tackle a business application. On their return they produced a prescient report suggesting that Lyons should explore the possibilty of acquiring a computer. The Lyons Board to their credit and prompted by Simmons accepted the report.

Thompson subsequently played a major part in setting up the LEO organisation and became CEO of LEO Computers when this became a subsidary company. He aslo recruited David Caminer to LEO. Standingford left Lyons to run an independent engineering company in Liverpool.

If Thompson and Caminer played the major role in applying the computer to business processes, John Pinkerton the chief engineer was the genius who turned ideas into practical computers designed to handle business applications.

An unsung achievement of the three great pioneers -Thompson, Pinkerton and Caminer is that they built a team which whose achievements at LEO and beyond still resonates.

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