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55717 LEO - The Automatic Office (1957)

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LEO Computers Society

Three VHS copies of LEO - The Automatic Office (referred to throughout the collection as 'The LEO Film'), made in 1957 for LEO Computers Ltd by FHP Films (Film House Productions).
Director: Colin Bell
Cameraman: W.D. Williams
Editing: Peter B. Dunbar
Sound Recording: John Cape

The original negative for the film (minus the soundtrack) is held in the archive at the British Film Institute - see the entry in their catalogue.

Copyright for the film was transferred to the LEO Computers Society in 2014.

Research comments: This film offers interesting insight into the second LEO computer (LEO II/1), which went on to spark a series of LEOs built for companies other than Lyons. The marketing film looks particularly into how the machines are made and at the wide range of fields in which LEO II/1 is working beyond the work it did for Lyons itself. This other work includes tax tables for the Inland Revenue (which LEO produced overnight for the 1955-56 budget), life assurance, market research, ordnance ranges, rail distances, stress calculations for aviation and even classifications "in the fight against pneumoconiosis" (lung disease) for the National Coal Board.

The Ford payroll is also a LEO II/1 job covered in some detail in the film, including a look at the work of the data prep. girls (they were always women) and LEO's production rate of 5,000 payslips an hour with the additional national insurance, national savings and management data required both by the employees and the company. Lyons' own teashop orders job (L2) is also explained, including footage of the bakeries, teashops and the 'online (telephone) ordering' process at Cadby Hall (based on variations to standard orders) pioneered by LEO's David Caminer. LEO prints packing orders for 150 teashops and 40,00 items of stock by 4:30pm every day, even though the last orders are not received until 3:30pm. The computer then specifies these in the right order for delivery to the teashops.

The presenter also looks at how LEO's engineers undertake marginal testing every day.

The film's final statement is that "LEO is a machine that does routine clerical work more quickly and more accurately than clerks. The clerks are freed for more rewarding and more productive work..." (LM)

Date : 1957 to 1957

Physical Description : 3 items, VHS - film

Provenance :
Transferred to VHS from the original negative for Peter Bird in 1988.

Archive References : CMLEO/PB/AV/55717 , PJB/7/3, PJB/7/4, PJB/7/7 , DCMF20191024001

Related Topics:
This exhibit has a reference ID of CH55717. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

The video above may be subject to copyright of the original author and is present only on this website for non-profit educational purposes only. If you are the original copyright owner and wish to have the media removed from this website please contact us using the relevant contact email address listed on our contact page.

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