Len won a scholarship to study Mathematics at Hertford College Oxford in 1954, where he graduated with first class honours. He then got an MSC with distinction from Chelsea Polytechnic, now part of King’s College London.
Len Taylor was one of the real pioneers of the UK IT services sector. He was the co-founder – with Philip Hughes and Pat Coen – of Logica in 1969. They had worked for SCICON and together had approached backers for their new venture. Planning Research Corporation came up trumps and provided the capital required to launch Logica. Logica became a giant in our sector. It undertook projects that really did move the boundaries. Eg in 1971 designing the control systems for the National Grid and, in 1973, the SWIFT network. Logica can lay claim to have introduced the concept of ‘Turnkey’ systems with the advent of mini computers. Logica’s work on word processing systems might not have been a commercial success – but it was ground-breaking at the time.
I remember in the 1980s writing a critical report on Logica – which was going through a bad patch at the time – only to be rebuked with ‘please remember we designed the guidance systems for the Trident missiles and the software that enabled the ESA Giotto satellite to track Halley’s comet’. Unlike others who put commercial success above all else, Logica was a ‘techie’ company. Whenever I visited at that time, it seemed rather like a University campus.
Logica was one of the first UK HQed company to float on the LSE in 1983 when Logica staff owned 40% of the company which at that stage was valued at £80m. Len Taylor stepped down from day-to-day operations in 1990 but stayed with Logica until 1995.
But Logica remarkably remained independent – and a leading SITS company – until 2012 when they were acquired by Canadian CGI for £1.7b. The very last of that cohort of major UK-owned SITS companies – like Hoskyns, CAP, SD-Scicon etal – to ‘fall’.
Len Taylor’s legacy and contribution to the UK tech scene is both unrivalled and – if I was honest – rather unappreciated/unsung. His passing gives an opportunity, at last, to recognise the huge impact that Len had on the whole UK tech scene and, indeed, on so many lives that he touched.
His son Neil Taylor told me “After building Logica from a pioneering idea in the 1960s to a publicly-listed global business, Dad stayed with the firm for long enough to ensure the new management was securely in place, and then he retired. He’d worked hard his whole life, and now he just wanted to relax and finally enjoy the fruits of his labour.
He could have hung around, played off his successes and become fantastically wealthy as the digital revolution took off (after all, that’s exactly what his successors did), but he’d already accomplished all his professional ambitions. Dad didn’t want to work his life away for wealth that he’d never enjoy. Instead, he chose to enjoy his life and spend time with the people he loved. For Dad, family was at the heart of everything he did. He’d always had a passion for travel, so he was happy to leave the corporate world to explore broader horizons”
I am pleased to pass on these other comments:
“Len was a brilliant leader . Logica could not have existed and prospered without him.
He first attracted to Logica a highly talented team.Then he inspired them and structured and organised the whole company .
At a personal level I am forever grateful for the partnership , the guidance and the support that he gave me over so many years .
What should be recognised is not just his leadership of Logica, but also his great contribution to the development of the whole industry in the 1970s and 1980s .
My thoughts and commiserations are with Joan and her family .”
Philip Hughes – Co-founder of Logica in 1969
“I first met Len Taylor when I joined Logica in December 1973. In the thirteen years that followed, until I left to emulate him by striking out on my own, he was an outstanding, clever mentor, an unswerving supporter of those he believed were committed to the company and a true, generous colleague and friend.
Len’s defining characteristic was his honesty in his dealings with others, whether clients or employees. From that strong platform he commanded universal respect.
After we’d left Logica we continued close friends, meeting frequently to lunch and talk politics, business and our travels.
It was a privilege to have worked for and with Len. I’m much saddened by his passing yet sustained by happy memories of Logica’s many successes and the part he played in them.”
Gordon Olson – Formerly MD, Logica VTS Ltd, Director Logica Ltd.
“Very sorry to hear that Len Taylor has passed away. His part in the creation and leadership of Logica is well recognised both within and beyond that organisation and we are very grateful for that contribution to the company that became Logica and later acquired by CGI. There will be many former Logica members who remember Len and his style and have taken inspiration in their own careers.”
Steve Thorn – President CGI UK.
Len is survived by his wife Joan and his sons Geoff and Neil.