Mary Coombs

Mary Coombs

Born 1929

Mary Coombs (nee Blood) was the first woman to work on the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) computers. She didn't take the typical route to becoming a computer programmer; she earned a BA Honours degree in French from Queen Mary University in London and then took a holiday job at Lyon’s, the well known catering company with a chain of tea shops (known as Lyon’s Corner Houses) throughout the UK. Despite not studying maths formally, her maths skills led to a place with Lyons’ Statistical Office and there Mary learned of an opening with the department working on the LEO computers.

LEO was the world’s first computer used exclusively for business applications. Mary completed Lyons’ ‘computer appreciation course’ with a stellar performance that led to an offer of a job in the computer division with Frank Land, working on the LEO from 1952 on. 

Mary worked on programming the LEO to handle payroll. She is recognised as the first female commercial programmer. She became a supervisor and worked to locate and repair coding errors in the programs created by others. She worked on the LEO I, II, and III and her experience led to her being in charge of rewriting the programs from LEO II to be used on LEO III. She went on to work for English Electric Leo Computers and International Computers Limited as these companies eventually merged.

Mary Coombs was one of the women profiled in our Women in Computing Festival 2017 of entitled Where Did All the Women Go?. Click here for the Women in Computing timeline created for that event.


 

 

 

 

Mary Coombs

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Publication articles relating to :

Item Publication Date
dK'tronics Hardware and Software [Advert] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Sinclair ZX81 Advert [Advert] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Testing Your ZX81's Speed [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Windfall (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
1K Chess [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Orbit (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Bureau de Change (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
The Dreaded ROM Bug [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
ZX81 Re-Number (Utility) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Building a Library [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Power Boat (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Zap (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Tourist Trap (16K Adventure Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Double Your RAM [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
First Steps in Machine Code [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Micro Mouse (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Screen Pokes for ZX80 and ZX81 [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
One Armed Bandit [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Othello (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Swappo (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Peek, Poke, Byte and RAM [Review] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Clive Sets the Pace [News Item]
Uncle Clive will be donning his sweaty tracksuit to set the pace in a half-marathon to be held in July.
ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Sinclair Misses the Bus [News Item]
Sinclair and Timex were most conspicuous by their absence at the giant West Coast Faire held in San Francisco at the end of March.
ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Schools Lap it Up [News Item]
More than 2500 UK secondary schools have bought ZX81s to give their pupils hands-on computing experience.
ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Timex Buys it Up [News Item]
Sinclair Research have signed a deal with Timex in America to get the ZX81 sold through some 171,000 retail outlets in the states.
ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Users' Club [News Item]
A network of Users' Club for the ZX81 has sprung up in the UK.
ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Users Crowd it Out [News Item]
The ZX Microfairs, organised by Mike Johnston, are going from strength to strength.
ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
DCP Developments' Packs [Article] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Hypno (16K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Crofton Keyboard Review [Review] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Quicksilva - Nick Lambert Interview [Interview] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Chopper Squad (1K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Draughts (4K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Customer File (Business Software) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
UFO (1K Game) [Type-In Listing] ZX Computing Summer 1982 May 1982
Dixons Advert - Amstrad PCW 8256 399 [Advert] Personal Computer World - October 1985
Integrex Colourjet - 569 [Advert] Personal Computer World - October 1985
Amstrad PCW 8256 Review [Review] Personal Computer World - October 1985
Interview with Sir Clive Sinclair [Interview] Personal Computer World - October 1990 October 1990
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