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Mike Tyzack's story with LEO computers

In 1960 I was working at MPNI in Coventry. Our payroll was put onto a LEO II in January 1961 but I never saw the machine. I do remember that the printer had a limited character set because instead of using the figure 8 it used capital S and instead of zero it used O.
My first programming job was at Fort Dunlop in Birmingham on LEO III/3. I started there in 1963. My first program was part of the payroll suite. I remember there was a complaint from one of the rubber workers that he'd worked a lot of overtime but only been paid just over £2:00:00. It turned out that he should have received £102:00:00 but the program only allowed for £99:19:11.There was another occasion when the payroll system crashed overnight and the Coventry factory workers were going to get their wages late. Our manager arranged that all those programming staff who lived in Coventry should go straight to the factory and help fill the pay packets. When we arrived we were not asked to show any identity but were given a case containing £2,000 in used notes and pointed in the direction of a room where we could work. The next suite I worked on was the Production Control System for aircraft parts at the Coventry factory still written in INTERCODE. We had our programs punched onto on 80 column cards. When we needed to do amendments we punched those ourselves using a hand punch. We rarely added comments as these involved multi-punches (pressing 2 or 3 keys together to get a character). In 1964 we started using CLEO for a suite of programs we wrote for Dunlop Footwear in Winsford. So then our programs were perforated onto paper tape. When we had to perforate our amendments we got to use a decent Creed machine with a QWERTY keyboard. By this time LEO III/3 was filling up with production work so Dunlop ordered another machine. I know one of our managers wanted an IBM 360 but we got the first LEO 360. By now we were getting just one amend & trial per day even though III/3 was running 24 hours a day. While we were waiting for delivery of LEO III/23 some of us had to do our trials at BOC in Swinton Manchester on LEO III/13. Each Monday we went up there and took a few mag tapes in a car. On the last week we realised we had 57 mag tapes to bring back but we did manage to fit them all in the Mini around the passengers.
In 1966 I got a job as Senior Programmer at LEO III/21. We were just maintaining an accounting system that had been written in INTERCODE. We wrote later programs in CLEO. A major incident while I was there was an infestation of iron filings. The air conditioning system had managed to spread these liberally around the computer room. The LEO III was out of action for a week while engineers wearing protective clothing vacuum-cleaned every piece of hardware. While they were doing that we used one of the GPO machines at Charles House in Kensington. Just before I left Tote I was invited to the Minerva Road factory to see the new System 4.

Date : Unknown

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH56471. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Mike Tyzack's story with LEO computers

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