LEO Computers Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 NAHC/LEO
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      230 items
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main John Rylands University Library.

Scope and Content

The collection contains papers charting the development of LEO, the first business computer. It includes company correspondence dating from the 1950s, patent information, material relating to the development of systems and programming, and also includes many manuals, instruction and user training booklets.

Administrative / Biographical History

Collaborations between J. Lyons & Company, a British catering company with strong interests in new office management techniques, and Cambridge University led to the production of a series of important computers, called LEO - Lyons Electronic Office. LEO, operational in 1951, ran "the world's first regular routine office computer job". LEO Computers Ltd was formed in 1954 with Anthony Salmon, J.R.M. Simmons and T.R. Thompson as Directors. The company installed LEO computers in many British offices, including Ford Motor Company and the "clerical factory" of the Ministry of Pensions at Newcastle. LEO Computers Ltd merged with the computer interests of English Electric in 1963 to form English Electric LEO. Subsequent mergers eventually found LEO incorporated into ICL in 1968.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The material was acquired from the following sources: John Pinkerton (C1-C13, and C52-97); Peter Bird (A9, B1-B14, C98-C195); John Aris; Peter Byford; Gordon Foulger; A.L. Jacobs; G. Parry; Phil Andrews; Ann Sayce; Gordon Foulgar; Mike Hancock. Much of the collection was made available through the generous assistance of the Leo Computers Society: see http://www.leo-computers.org.uk/.


Description compiled with reference to: Peter Bird, LEO, the First Business Computer, (Hasler, 1994); David Caminer, John Aris, Peter Hermon and Frank Land, The World's First Business Computer: User-Driven Innovation, (London: McGraw-Hill, 1996) and John Hendry, The teashop computer manufacturer: J. Lyons, LEO and the potential and limits of high-tech diversification , Business History (1987) 29, pp73-102.

Related Material

J.R.M. Simmons' papers are held at the Modern Records Centre, Warwick University, (ref.: MSS.363). Records relating to J. Lyons & Co. are kept at the London Metropolitan Archives, Joint Archive Service of the Corporation of London, as follows: (ref.: ACC 3527, 3811; LMA 4004, 4018, 4183).