L.E.O.: The Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer

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9780070095014: L.E.O.: The Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer

This book takes you behind the scenes at the creation of the world's first business computer - the precursor to every computer in every office around the world. It places you in the midst of a dynamic group of creative people - visionaries who were the first to recognize the potential and harness the power of computing for business purposes. Written by the real-life participants in these exciting events, it "depicts the scene frankly, warts and all, " as David Caminer, the pioneering team leader, writes in his preface. LEO reveals the strange and remarkable tale of how Lyons - a venerable tea-and-cake company - bred, incubated, and hatched that history-making business computer. In 1951, less than 2 years after the project was initiated, LEO went on-line as the world's first business computer. A forerunner to the IBM mainframes, LEO was the first computer to run a payroll, the first to perform inventories, and the first to track product distribution - as well as the first to calculate the blending of fine, flavorful, and cost-effective cups of tea.

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Review:

A variety of machines mark the milestones on the way to modern cyberculture. Many, such as ENIAC, UNIVAC, the TRS-80, and the Apple II are well known. Less celebrated but vitally important was the Lyons Electronic Office (LEO), the first business computer. Rather than being built by an electronic firm, LEO was built by J. Lyons & Co., a British food company that kept Great Britain in tea and cakes throughout World War II. J. Lyons & Co. operated in constant innovation, leaping into business history right after the war with the vision that the growing mountain of paperwork could be tamed by machine--if they only had the courage to build it. LEO tells the story of what many believed to be, at best, a quixotic effort. LEO's success was demonstrated when the world's first routine office job--weekly bakery valuations--was computerized in 1951. Within a few years, LEO computers were running payrolls for Ford Motor Company and working for British railroads, military, and businesses. This is not just a story about technology, but about individual and corporate vision and the people who made a dream work despite mistakes.

From the Back Cover:

A saga of how the impossible can be made to happen. ``The reader must experience this wonderful story through the words of the people who were there to fully appreciate what was accomplished and how.''--Richard L. Noland, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University. ``Fascinating. . .an extremely timely book. A band of exceptional, dedicated, and hard-working professionals performing pioneering work almost without realizing it.''--The Times (London). ``The LEO project was on the one hand delightfully dotty. . .on the other, it was a hugely professional effort.''--Financial Times (London). ``The LEO team can certainly teach us a thing or two.''--Computing magazine. ``An unparalleled insight into the problems, challenges, and above all the sheer excitement of making the world's first business computer.''--Computer Weekly. In 1947, a remarkable group of pioneers began a process that would change the way business was done forever. Now, the original development team tells the fascinating story of LEO--Lyons Electronic Office, the world's first business computer long before IBM's first business mainframes! This compelling book transports the reader to postwar England, where a small group with limited resources designed and built a machine that luanched the modern world of business computing. Their story is a fascinating case study in business innovation, vision, and change--one that offers powerful parallels for anyone grappling with the impact of the Internet on business today.

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John Aris, Peter Hermon, Frank Land, David Caminer, David Caminer (Editor)
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Aris, John
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John Aris, Frank Land, Peter Hermon and David Cami
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