Feeds

World's first biz computer was British – and sold teacakes

60th anniversary of the LEO is today

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Pictures Forget BlackBerry and Bill Gates: the first business computer in the world was British and was used to help sort the logistics for bakery distribution.

Tea merchants, bakers and Wimpy burger founder J Lyons and Co instituted the enormous programmable computer – LEO – in its Hammersmith office to help with deliveries of perishables including cakes way back in 1951. Today is LEO's 60th anniversary.

You can read about LEO's driving force, David Caminer, in one of Reg Hardware's Unsung Heroes of Tech articles.

Leo 2, credit Leo Computer Society

LEO II, showing the tabulator and the control desk

The beast of a machine comprised 5,936 valves and 64 mercury memory tubes. Each memory tube was 5ft long and weighed half a ton. It took up 5,000ft2 (464m2) of floor space and required 30,000 watts of energy.

Valves would regularly fail, with up to about 50 a week being replaced at one point, said the London School of Economics.

The user interface wasn't particularly developed: LEO was controlled from a control panel, with several oscilloscopes set up to monitor contents of the storage area. In a method vaguely reminiscent of some IT practices today, the early computer programmers used to listen to the computer's "music" to see what it was up to:

The machine also had a speaker installed and programmers could hear the sounds generated as LEO performed certain calculations. The programmers became so accustomed to certain frequency variations, that they could detect something was wrong with a program by the sounds produced through the speaker. The programmers also used this speaker arrangement to generate some of the first "computer music".

Leo 2, credit Leo Computer Society

"Listening to the computer's music" LEO II

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes
4TB of home storage is great, until you wake up to a dead device
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Intel offers ingenious piece of 10TB 3D NAND chippery
The race for next generation flash capacity now on
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.