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Operating and Engineering Experience Gained with LEO

Article by John Pinkerton (1954) in Automatic Digital Computation, Proceedings of a Symposium held at National Physical Laboratory, March 1953, pp. 21-30, published by HMSO.

T.R. Thompson also delivered a paper at the conference on Special Requirements for Commercial or Administrative Applications and Douglas Hartree commended J. Lyons & Co. in his opening address for undertaking the "first high-speed automatically sequenced machine to be built primarily for commercial and clerical work". 

Provenance: This volume was donated to the Centre for Computing History as part of a collection of Ferranti hardware and a series of documentation on early computing, by Trevor Griffiths, in June 2019 (CCH OE 687).

Research comments: The Pinkerton article is on pages 20-34 of the Proceedings. Page 20 shows a photograph of LEO I (this image is included in CCH's development work to construct a virtual reality LEO I, photo ref LEO1p11). 
Key points from the article include:
  • in building the "calculator" (i.e. LEO) Lyons' intention was to get it into operation as quickly as possible because they felt that until it had actually been in use over a period of time for clerical purposes, "the optimum form of such equipment could not be decided".
  • Pinkerton states that modifications and "additional features" were required to the EDSAC design that the LEO is based on "to make the installation effective on clerical work" and that this included a "larger store, means for introducing data into and extracting results from the calculator much faster than was possible with the EDSAC, and a foolproof method of checking data recorded to the machine".
  • Pinkerton suggests that although LEO has been in use for over 18 months, it is "not yet as reliable as would be necessary for carrying out a regular and intensive programme of clerical work".
Refers to auxiliary equipment produced by Standard Telephones & Cables Ltd (STC), which went on to prove unreliable. The equipment was eventually abandoned in favour of a scheme developed internally by the LEO engineers. (LM)

Date : 1954

This document has been scanned and is available to view online. Please note that copyright is retained by the original rights holder.
File Size: 10.24 MB

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH54527. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
  Article: Operating and Engineering Experience Gained with LEO

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