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Putting computers to work [Lyons Electronic Office]

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1 Author(s)

Fifty years after British catering company J.C. Lyons embarked on a project to develop its own 'electronic office', the author recalls how an act of faith resulted in the creation of the world's first business IT system. Lyons decided to build an electronic computer to master the mountains of paper in its offices. Business computing was unknown and Lyons Electronic Office effectively started with a blank sheet of paper. The only work that had been done on a stored program computer anywhere in the world was sequences of a handful of instructions of a mathematical nature. These were on the 'Baby' at Manchester University and the EDSAC system at Cambridge University; systems which at that time still possessed no mechanism for inserting data or printing out results. It could be said to have been an enormous act of faith to go ahead on that flimsy basis. But to the office management at Lyons, the possibilities seemed so great that this first trivial demonstration was deemed to be enough. The author describes the development the computer system and some of the issues raised such as data entry and output, security and accuracy of data

Published in:

IEE Review  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 5 )