Home > LEO Computers > LEOPEDIA > Other Memoirs, Reminiscences > Ken Kemp: Reminiscence

Ken Kemp: Reminiscence

I joined English Electric LEO in September 1964 in Bristol as a trainee computer programmer following graduation. The Bristol office had been in existence about a year as a hardware sales office and a potential computer bureau for the SW of England and South Wales, and had a small staff of about a dozen, the seniors of whom had transferred from Hartree House, London. The computer bureau was to be run on LEOIII/35 which had been sold to the SW Gas Board based in Bath and had not yet been installed. The bureau used the computer overnight and the Gas Board used it during the day. 

The bureau business was more successful than the hardware sales side and we soon had customers throughout the south west but not in Wales, dealing with a variety of commercial activities with payroll having the biggest share. The bureau staff expanded quickly, especially in data preparation, and operators who worked permanent night shifts.

Following the merger with ICT, the few sales staff moved to the local ICT office, leaving the rest of us to continue with the bureau operation. At this stage, I was now the head of systems and programming. We continued using LEOIII/35 until the Gas Board replaced it with a System 4/50 which was also shared with the bureau operation. I stayed with the bureau operation through a number of subsequent owners, and I stayed in Bristol working  as a project manager or software manger with several national companies until retirement.

My LEO activities were re-activated when a printed copy of the Intercode Translator was discovered and David Holdsworth decided to resurrect it. I was one of a number of people who keyed in a copy of the Intercode from the listing. When David had a workable version of the translator which ran on a PC, I then wrote quite a number of small Intercode test programs to check the translator and LEO emulator were performing correctly. During this time I also contributed to the digitising of the LEO Manuals.

Report on Use of Software to Write and Run Intercode Programs on a PC
My colleague, Ray Smith, and I were both involved in the project led by David Holdsworth, to successfully resurrect the Intercode translator and be able to write and run intercode programs on a PC. We could see the benefits for future researchers of early computers, of being able to write and run archaic software. We decided to package up the software which would do this. As a test of the package, we thought we would recruit ex LEO programmers to try the package. If an experienced Intercode programmer could not make the package work, then our package would have little use in 100 years time, and Ray and I would have to revise our ideas.

Date : 2020

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH61691. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Ken Kemp: Reminiscence

Click on the Images For Detail

Help support the museum by buying from the museum shop

View all items

Founding Sponsors
redgate Google ARM Real VNC Microsoft Research
Heritage Lottery Funded
Heritage Lottery Fund
Accredited Museum