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Leo Computers Society NEWS IN BRIEF October 2017

 Home > LEO Computers > Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) Archive > CMLEO/LS - LEO Comput ... s Society Collection > LCS Administration and Publications > LCS Newsletters > Leo Computers Society ... IN BRIEF October 2017

LCS Newsletter, short format, from October 2017. The editor is unidentified.

Date : October 2017

Physical Description : 1 digital file (3 pages); .docx (MS Word 2010 document)

Transcript :

Leo computers society
October 2017

This is a brief summary of news from the Society since our last Reunion in April 2016.

Death of the first LEO historian – Peter Bird

We were saddened to learn of the death in August of Peter Bird, a huge friend of the Society, and the author/publisher in 1994 of ‘LEO, the first business computer’ and later ’The First Food Empire, a history of J Lyons and Co.’ Members will remember that last year, we put together ‘LEO Remembered’ an anthology of reminiscences as a tribute to Peter. We presented him with this at his home and he was genuinely moved.

Dame Stephanie Shirley unveils our plaque in Lyons Walk commemorating LEO I on the 65th anniversary of its first run

On a crisp and sunny November’s day – 65 years exactly since LEO’s first business run, and almost on the spot where that would have been – at Cadby Hall - we unveiled a commemorative plaque. We were honoured that Dame ‘Steve’ Shirley carried out the unveiling with guests including members of the Lyons family, representatives from the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and LEO pioneers. The plaque was kindly donated by Tony Morgan who is also donating an Information Board about LEO which has been compiled by Mike Tyzack. This will be erected near the plaque once the borough has sorted out some redevelopments of the site.

Eric Schmitt speaks at the first annual LEO lecture at the London School of Economics

Members may remember the annual IET Pinkerton lecture series held from 2000 which subsequently moved to India. The Society has now renewed this tradition and the first LEO lecture was given on 14th October 2016 by Eric Schmidt, Executive Head of Alphabet, parent company of Google. His theme was ‘From LEO to Deep Mind’. Panel contributions were followed by discussions on the direction in which computing is heading. The next lecture, planned for March 2018 is expected to be on the theme of Cyber Security.

Draft Constitution for the Society

For some time, the Society has been considering putting its status on a slightly more formal footing. This may prove useful, for example, when we apply for funding. We have written a draft to be presented to members at this year’s Reunion, by our Chairman, Peter Byford. Once considered and ratified, we will hold Annual General Meetings which will allow members to elect key members of our management committee and review our activities and accounts.

Middlesex PhD Scholarship to research LEO

Members will recall that the AIT Trust has for some time been generously funding graduate scholarships at Middlesex University, named in honour of David Tresman Caminer, one of LEO’s original team. Elisabetta Mori, our PhD scholar, is undertaking research into LEO’s pioneering role. She is supervised at the University by Dr Giuseppe Primiero and also by Professor Frank Land, chair of the Society’s History Group. Elisabetta is now at the stage of deciding which of many interesting lines of research she will follow up for her thesis.

The LEO Heritage Project

Perhaps the most significant development this year has been our work to ensure that the history of LEO is preserved. The increasing age of the pioneers has made such work all the more urgent – we want to ensure that we capture both reminiscences and ‘objects’ – including documents, journals, photographs, drawings, programming notes and artefacts.
LEOPEDIA, a full listing of all references to LEO is curated by Frank Land and held on our website www.leo-computers.org.uk. He asks for Members’ suggestions for any additions to be addressed to him at the Society.

The Oral History project has already captured on audio files and in transcriptions many interviews with LEO people. We have initiated a ‘selfie’ option – asking people to write their
own short memoirs. Mike Tyzack is running the project so please contact him if you are interested in being interviewed or helping with interviewing or editing. Elisabetta Mori has been interviewing some of LEO’s early female staff.

We have now reached the stage of recording systematically the personal collections held by individual members. We are very happy for members to keep their collections, but would like to find out what they hold. In due course, the Society would be happy to provide a safe destination for such collections. Please let Hilary Caminer know if you are in such a position. We expect soon to be in the position of sending out Research Assistants to help catalogue large personal collections.

The next stage is to identify permanent homes for our collections – building on holdings already held in academic institutions and museums – e.g. at The Science Museum and The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

We have been fortunate in receiving help and encouragement from many bodies interested in computing history – for example, the Centre for Computing History at Cambridge, the IEEE, and staff from the Universities of Middlesex, Warwick, LSE, Manchester and Leeds Beckett.

We will need funding to allow us to work on the archiving process and digitise documents. The Society committee needs help from paid archivists and is obviously not in a position to pay for such personnel. If any members have ideas about potential donors, we would be grateful to hear them.

LEO has a presence at York Racecourse

In May, we had a LEO stand at a Computing Conference at York Racecourse, thanks to a kind invitation from Colin Williams. John Hume and John Daines found that there was quite a lot of interest in LEO – including from Alan Turing’s nephew, Sir Dermot Turing.

LEO exhibition at the Centre for Computing History, Cambridge, this November

This November, there is to be a LEO exhibition at CCH, Cambridge. During the weekend of 11th and 12th November, volunteers from the Society will be on hand to tell LEO’s story first -hand and answer visitors’ questions. More information on this and an earlier exhibition on women in computing which features some of our female LEO pioneers is available at http://www.computinghistory.org.uk


This year, 2017, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the very birth of the whole LEO project.

Frank Land explains: In October 1947, The Lyons Board followed the advice of John Simmons to accept the recommendation made by Standingford and Thompson for Lyons to build its own computer. This was to be done in collaboration with Maurice Wilkes at Cambridge University.
Three weeks later, on November 11th, a delegation led by George Booth and including TRT visited Cambridge with an offer of about £3000 in exchange for Cambridge sharing its EDSAC development with Lyons. Wilkes, with the approval of his Cambridge peers, readily accepted and two days later a cheque was sent to Cambridge. On 2nd December, Cambridge University formally reported the donation in the University Reporter.
Lyons did not finally commit itself to build its own computer until EDSAC was able to demonstrate it was fully working in May 1949. This was the signal to set the LEO project in motion.’
(With acknowledgments to Peter Bird ‘LEO, The World’s First Business Computer’ and ‘User-Driven Innovation’ Caminer, Land, Aris, Hermon.

2017 also marks the centenary of the death of Sir Joseph Lyons, 1847 – 1917 and the 130th anniversary of the founding of the firm J.Lyons and Co.

Lyons, the ‘L’ of LEO
As this is Joe Lyons’ centenary year, we decided to pay our special respects at the Reunion to the firm which so imaginatively
took the plunge and initiated LEO. Neville Lyons, one of our members, who is Sir Joseph’s cousin twice removed, is a knowledgeable speaker on the history of Lyons and how LEO fitted into that story. Neville is speaking to us at this year’s Reunion and we are also displaying some Lyons’ memorabilia. English Heritage unveiled a Blue Plaque in Sir Joseph’s honour last Autumn at 11a Palace Mansions, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8QN.

Thank you…

To the AIT Trust for its ongoing support of our LEO Heritage and Oral Histories projects.
To Google for generously sponsoring today’s event, making it possible for us to hire the HAC.
To all those who have kindly donated the prizes for today’s raffle.
To the suppliers of Lyons’ produce: Tetleys UCC for coffee, Premier Foods for cakes and Iceland for fig rolls. 

Your Society needs YOU!

We would now like to welcome as members all those with an interest in LEO, including people who never worked on LEO machines.
The Society is entirely run by a team of volunteers. Whether on the committee or carrying out specific specialist tasks, we are keen to recruit new talent. Please contact Peter Byford via the website: www.leo-computers.org.uk

Last year’s committee at Middle Temple

The 2017 Committee
Peter Byford, Chairman
Frank Land, Chair History Committee, Heritage Project
Bernard Behr, Treasurer, Editor Newsletter.
Hilary Caminer, Secretary, Heritage Project
Mike Tyzack, Oral History Project Coordinator
John Daines, Heritage Project, Archive
Mike Storey, Reunion Coordinator
John Paschoud, Education, Constitution
Ralph Land, Heritage Project
Gloria Guy, Merchandise
Vince Bodsworth, Heritage Project, liaison with TNMoC
Co-opted members:
Bob Stevenson, Website Manager, Photo Archive
Tony Morgan, Membership, Technical Adviser
Elisabetta Mori, LEO PhD scholar, Middlesex University

LEO Books for sale

We have available Peter Bird’s ‘LEO, the first business computer’ for £10 and ‘LEO Remembered’ for £5. All proceeds go to the Society’s funds to help pay for our activities.

Provenance :
Donated to the LCS archive by Peter Byford.

Archive References : CMLEO/LS/WP/NL/201710 , DCMLEO20201014005

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH61800. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
Article: Leo Computers Society NEWS IN BRIEF October 2017

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LEO Computers Society
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