John Pinkerton

John Pinkerton


After doing research into radar systems and receiving a PhD at Cambridge, Maurice Wilkes recommended John Pinkerton to J Lyons & Co as the engineer to design and develop LEO. He joined Lyons in January 1949 and started to build the small team of engineers which succeeded in building LEO I, a machine based on the EDSAC design but significantly modified for business data processing. 

In 1959 he was appointed a Director of LEO Computers Limited, but resigned on the merger creating English Electric Leo Marconi (EELM). On the further creation of ICL he took charge of research into the product lines being developed by EELM.

Subsequently John Pinkteron took a leading role in the development of International Standards and represented the UK in bodies such as the European Union’s ESPRIT project. He also became Chairman of the editorial board of the ICL Technical Journal. 

As a tribute to his outstanding qualities the IET inaugurated an annual Pinkerton Lecture and the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) set up an annual Pinkerton Award to the year's leading apprentice. 

A short biographical sketch can be found on page 208 of Peter Bird’s book LEO: the World’s First Business Computer.

The US Charles Babbage Institute has a transcript of a self interview conducted by John Pinkerton in 1988. The transcript can be found on their website.

John Pinkerton has an entry written by Martin Campbell-Kelly in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, published 25 September 2004.

Many obituaries to John Pinkerton were published on his death:

IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 20, issue 3.

Articles Written by John Pinkerton :




Photograph of John Pinkerton Click for a larger version

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