In the late 1940s, J. Lyons and Co., the country’s largest caterer, made the prescient decision to invest, both financially and by offering staff support, in the computer developments being made at Cambridge University (EDSAC) on condition that they could copy their 'electronic calculator' if it worked. From this collaboration came Lyons' own version, the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO), now acknowledged as the world’s first business computer.
From 2017-2023, The Centre for Computing History worked in partnership with the LEO Computers Society (opens in new window) to bring together, digitise, disseminate and research a wide range of LEO-related material that had not adequately been addressed as a whole before and this project identified a myriad of ways in which LEO was groundbreaking.
The project employed a variety of approaches to understand and tell the LEO story, and to ensure the accessibility of the new LEO archive. As a result we have galvanised a groundswell of recognition of LEO's rightful place in the history of computing, along the way raising public awareness and pride in this important, uniquely British heritage.
To access the project and the LEO archive at the centre of it, please visit our project webpages or click below.