Storage unit for LEO I, made by J Lyons and Company, England, 1950-1965
The LEO I was the first computer designed purely for commercial use. It was the brainchild of two employees of J Lyons and Company Limited, who returned from a trip to the United States in 1947 convinced of the potential benefits of using electric computers for tasks at such a large company. They enlisted the help of Dr Wilkes at Cambridge University, who had been responsible for the building of the EDSAC, the world's first automatic computer, who made details of the design available to Lyons. The development of the LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) took place between 1949 and 1951, and it ran its first program, bakery calculations, in November 1951. It was used for payroll calculations, and was able to calculate paypacks in 1.5 seconds per staff member, which had formerly taken a clerk 8 minutes. J Lyons also received requests from other companies and government departments to run programs for them. LEO I was used by J Lyons and Company until 1965. When it was broken down, some parts came to the Science Museum, some were sold to a television effects company, some valves were made into electric lamps for members of the team who built LEO, and the rest was sent to the scrap heap.