Medieval methods... (was Re: Got a question....PDP? VAX?)

From: Frank McConnell <>
Date: Tue Mar 16 14:36:36 1999 wrote:
> I think Leo Computers may be regarded as the world's first
> commercial computer manufacturer. But I don't think they existed as
> early as the '40s. I think the original LEO project was early '50s,
> and Leo Computers (as a manufacturer) mid '50s and later. But I'm
> not sure...

> Anyone care to add to the above? Correct my mistakes? Etc.?

There's a recent book:

LEO: The Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer
by David Caminer (ed.), John Aris, Peter Hermon, Frank Land
published by McGraw-Hill, December 1997
ISBN 0-07-009501-9

Basically, yes, they realized that automation of their data processing
was a desirable thing, and a survey of the market for such machines
in 1949 or so forced them to conclude that if they wanted it done in
any reasonable time they would have to do it themselves. So they did,
and they ended up with a computer that was pretty good at doing what
Lyons needed done.

BTW, the people who wrote and edited this book are the people who
designed and built LEO: it's really a collection of their writings
about their work. Reading it I had the impression that Caminer went
around and darn near forcibly extracted a chapter from everyone he

I gather the machine had some sort of support for doing arithmetic on
pre-decimalized currency, does anyone here know what that looked like?
It wasn't explained very well in the book.

-Frank McConnell
Received on Tue Mar 16 1999 - 14:36:36 GMT

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