Computing goes Commercial...
The world’s first business computer, LEO 1, was developed by bakery and restaurant chain Lyons in the late 1940s. It grew out of Cambridge University’s EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) project, itself inspired by ENIAC. The development of EDSAC was accelerated by Lyons managers, led by David Caminer (1916-2008) seeking to put the nascent computer technology to use making their post-War business operate more efficiently. EDSAC had the ability to store programs, though no high-level language to allow their creation. Lyons engineers nonetheless were able to use its 31 basic instructions to create a coded program - fed in on card rather than wired in place, as was the case with earlier computers - that was able to track and cost the labour and material of cakes, biscuits and bread moving through Lyons various profit centres.
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) introduced the 12-bit PDP-8 - also known by the company as the ‘Straight 8’ - in March 1965. At a time when existing computers were large, room-sized systems, the PDP-8’s compact, fridge-sized design made it the first co-called “minicomputer”, a machine designed to provide computing power to small groups of people. It contained memory enough to hold 4096 12-bit words, while the unit’s processor ran to two registers. The CPU was operated using just eight instructions. DEC would go on to sell more than 300,000 PDP-8s and variants before discontinuing it in the mid-to-late 1970s, pushed out by the growing demand for truly personal computers.
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0. The Antikythera mechanism?
Any reference to Leo always reminds me of the story my father-in-law (95 and still going strong) tells. Lyons offered the use of Leo to the Inland Revenue to calculate the tax tables after a budget change. One year he was selected to go to Lyons, taking with him the highly confidential envelope that contained details of the tax changes to be announced in the budget. The rule was that the changes were secret until the budget announcements were made and the chancellor had sat down. Which meant waiting for the phone call to say that the chancellor had sat down. The envelope could be opened and the details given to the Lyons' techies. He opened the envelope, took out the paper that was inside and read it - "No Change".
> The Apple machines really weren't that important or successful
Maybe, but I used one in the office back in the early 80s. Great little machine, 48kb memory, twin floppies and the killer app, Visicalc.
When the company acquired its first IBM PC it seemed inferior in every sense. "It'll never catch on", thought I. Thus starting my ability to be 100% wrong about new technology.
DOS or CCPM? - no question, Concurrent CPM was superior in every way!
Future PC with CCPM or IBM PC with PC-DOS? - no brainer, I can multitask on my Future pc and store data on my 800kb floppies rather than 1 thing at a time with 360kb storage.
Word Perfect of MS Word? - easy. MS Word is so clunky it's all but unusable
Apple Lisa and a mouse? No-one needs a mouse
If only I had bet against myself