LEO Remembered: Book Review by Richard Sharpe

The CAV room at night

LEO Remembered edited by Hilary Caminer and Lisa-Jane McGerty, published by Leo Computers Society, Second edition, 2022, available here.

LEO Remembered is an excellent contribution to the history of UK computing with its focus on the world’s first computer for business applications. The LEO story has been told before: as early as 1980 in a short form by Simon Lavington (Early British Computers, Manchester University Press 1980) and at length by, for example, Peter J Bird in 1994 (LEO: The First Business Computer, Hasler Publishing Ltd). But it has never been told so expansively by the many who worked making the 71 LEOs identified by the editors or on applying them to business and scientific applications.

John Pinkerton, the lead electronic engineer working on the LEO I, explains the speed of processing: “Despite its slow speed LEO could run a sophisticated payroll, including cash dissection and department totals, at the rate of fifty persons per minute, printing two- or three-line payslips, two copies at once, on a line printer.”

Read Richard Sharpe’s full review here.


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