Feeds

LEO, the British computer that roared

Reg readers quiz duo who worked on world's first biz computer

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Live Chat Just graduated and looking for a career in computers during tough economic times? Try breaking into tech during the 1950s when most people hadn't even heard of a computer.

Yet, that's exactly what brothers Frank and Ralph Land did and within a relatively short time from the closing of their studies at the London School of Economics, the brothers joined an elite unit working on what has became known as the world's first business computer - LEO, or the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO).

Based on EDSAC - one of the first digital computers running a stored program and pioneered by Sir Maurice Wilkes - LEO was the product of the forward-thinking brains of Victorian era tea-and-biscuits emporium Lyons, where it started its life running operations.

Frank Land, one of LEO's first programmers, knocked the bugs from LEO and wrote macros on paper. By 1967 he was running a national network of LEO teams. Ralph was the outfit's business brains, exporting LEO systems around the world and managing to outsell burgeoning behemoth IBM.

Neither had graduated in something called "computing" because such courses didn't exist.

As we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Wilkes, and following our recent Geek's Guide on LEO, Reg readers talked to Frank and Ralph.

In a special Live Chat we talked about the origins of LEO, how it worked and how it differed from EDSAC; software development using paper and pencil; computing in the 1950s; how LEO went to work building Cold War missiles; and how LEO outsold IBM. You can read the transcript by clicking the window below. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.