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60 Years of Business Computing Started With Tea Shops

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the at-a-steep-price dept.

Businesses 89

theshowmecanuck writes "The Telegraph has an article talking about the 60th anniversary of The Lyons Electronic Office I (LEO I), complete with an old video from the mid '50s about LEO II. The LEO I was the first major computer business system. It was installed at a large catering company in the U.K. named J. Lyons and Co. that operated a chain of tea shops among other business interests. So, blame them or praise them, November 17, 2011 will mark 60 years since the day in 1951 that the Brits started the age of business computing. All hail our tea- and biscuit-powered computer overlords."

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Minecraft (5, Funny)

Deathnerd (1734374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030156)

My first thought when watching the video? "I can totally make that in minecraft..."

Sourceforge top downloads? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030192)

What the fuck? Seriously, what. the. fuck.

Re:Sourceforge top downloads? (2)

antdude (79039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031574)

Ditto. How do we get rid of it? I couldn't find the options to remove it. :(

Re:Sourceforge top downloads? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033748)

How do we get rid of it? I couldn't find the options to remove it. :(

The option isn't in the standard options. what you need to do is submit several dozen stories (they don't necessarily need to have been accepted), contribute a few thousand comments, and keep your karma at "excellent" for a decade or so. Then you'll be offered an option : "As our way of thanking you for your positive contributions to Slashdot, you are eligible to disable advertising. "

It might only take 5 years, and only "very good" karma, I'm not sure. It's so long since I saw advertising on Slashdot that I can't remember when it went away.

Re:Sourceforge top downloads? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035556)

[sighs] I wonder if we can block it with Ad Block Plus. Hmm!

Re:Sourceforge top downloads? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38037188)

That may or may not work, but I believe the intention of the site's managers is to encourage improvement of the standard of debate on the site.

Book reviewed (4, Interesting)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030240)

I reviewed Georgina Ferry's book [slashdot.org] "A Computer Called LEO: Lyons Tea Shops and the World's First Office Computer" for /. in May 2003.

Re:Book reviewed (1)

Mark Hood (1630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030608)

It's a good book (as you stated) and I bought it off the back of that review...

Re:Book reviewed (1)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030974)

Great read - I'll have to dig out my copy and reread it.

I remember being quite blown away by the use of mercury delay lines for storage - not exactly environmentally friendly, but a hell of an idea for the time.

Now if only Tony Wedgewood Benn hadn't been allowed anywhere near the computer industry in the 1960s...

Re:Book reviewed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38033788)

The LEO in the London Science Museum will never be powered up because the mercury has been removed from the delay lines on grounds of health and safety. There is also a TNMOC project to rebuild EDSAC that is currently struggling with the need to replace the mercury delay lines with something less toxic.

I can recommend the book.

Re:Book reviewed (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033782)

I was thinking to myself ... there was a programme on BBC Radio 4 a few years ago about LEO and it's context, and I was wondering if there was a podcast of that. The dates you give would be about right for the (putative) podcast(s) to be derived from the same book. Do you know of it's existence?

[Update] My searching reveals the list goes from "A Brief History of Mathematics" to "A History of the Brain" without passing through "A Computer Called Leo". Unless you know of other lists.

Re:Book reviewed (1)

mister_dave (1613441) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034508)

Loved that book. One interesting thing was the huge difference in sales for IBM computers vs UK vendors. There was/is a cultural difference between the US/UK that meant IBM sales reps had an easier sell in their home market than Leo sales reps.

It was a smashing success. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030248)

To this day, the Yanks haven't made a dent in Britain's total domination of the crumpet industry.

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030870)

Seriously?

You imagine the largest single seller of "english muffins" on the planet isn't McDonald's?

Really?

Re:It was a smashing success. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030896)

Muffin != Crumpet. Seriously.

Re:It was a smashing success. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030944)

I don't even think that McDonalds English muffin == muffin.

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031042)

It amuses me that you two had to be anonymous to discuss this...

Re:It was a smashing success. (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031320)

Any foodstuff with a nationality in it's name will never have been heard of by people within that nation.

English muffin. Someone once tried to tell me about "English cucumbers" (which apparently have no skin - what the hell?). The French call custard "Creme Anglais", etc. Italians have an ice cream called Zuppa Inglese (when we've never had any such thing).

None of which you'll EVER find in an English restaurant at all.

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032424)

Canadian Bacon

Re:It was a smashing success. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035262)

Canadian waitresses do look at you oddly when you ask for that. But I know Subway has American as a choice of cheese.

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38038422)

Almost all the Canadian bacon that you get in the United States is not the same as "real" Canadian (that is, "peameal") bacon [realcanadianbacon.com] . There is a guy in Troy MI who makes a living importing 'real' Canadian bacon though. What I think is funny is that there is actually a web site called "www.realcanadianbacon.com"

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032816)

"English cucumbers" (which apparently have no skin - what the hell?)

Likely a way of preparation - For a traditional tea you may take the skin off the cucumber before putting it into the delicate little sandwiches you serve.

Of course, IMHO, this takes away all the taste the (already watery) cucumber has left.

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034204)

Actually, being a brit in the US I can answer this. English cucumbers are different, it's down to variety. The US cucumbers tend to be more knobbly and thicker skinned, and need peeling. The English cucumbers are what we'd get in the UK, sold sealed in plastic, thin skinned and go in my gin and tonics.

Don't get me started on bacon.

Re:It was a smashing success. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38031136)

that's cos American crumpet is notoriously easy any where in the world. Hence no challenge.

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

black6host (469985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032878)

that's cos American crumpet is notoriously easy any where in the world. Hence no challenge.

Perhaps you meant "strumpet"? Or maybe even "tart"? :)

Re:It was a smashing success. (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38038506)

Crumpet is also slang for 'woman' [wikipedia.org] . But it is considered derogative along the lines of something you can 'have' (hence the food connotation).

It is better ... (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030360)

It is better to go 3 days without tea, than a day without gcc.
-- Ancient chinese secret.

shhhh! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030368)

"60 years since the day in 1951 that the Brits started the age of business computing."

Sshhh! You'll upset all the yanks who think they invented everything.

Re:shhhh! (2)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030426)

bah .... We don't think we invented *everything* .... but we did invent the idea of not paying all your crazy repressive taxes.

Now we have have our own crazy taxes, so feel free to return the favor. ;)

Re:shhhh! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030782)

bah .... We don't think we invented *everything* .... but we did invent the idea of not paying all your crazy repressive taxes.

Now we have have our own crazy taxes, so feel free to return the favor. ;)

That's OK, you don't make me pay your taxes.

Although, you make my dual nationality friend who lives and works in England pay your taxes, which is strange.

Re:shhhh! (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030918)

It's a strategy called "convince the majority to piss on a minority" and sadly, works all too well on the public.

Re:shhhh! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031048)

This is a bit off-topic, but it's not the most interesting story.

If you'd like to compare how much tax you pay with how much I pay:
- go to ListenToTaxMan [listentotaxman.com] (put a salary in £ in the gold box)
- add £800 to £2500, on average, of local tax ("Council Tax"), depending how valuable your house is.
- add 20% of everything you buy (VAT), although 0% on some "essentials" like many kinds of food, books. And only 5% on electricity.
- if you drive, petrol here is £1.34/L. About 80p of that is tax (50p fuel cost, 5p profit).

There are other taxes, principally a local tax for businesses (which I obviously don't pay directly), but I've covered about 98% of the tax I pay in a year.

Re:shhhh! (1)

bolthole (122186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031312)

if you drive, petrol here is £1.34/L.

and do note that comes out to about £5/US gallon. which is about $8/gallon.

now try complaining about "high gasoline prices" in the US. (odd about the mangled bit before the pound sign. it isnt in my editing box)

Re:shhhh! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031602)

now try complaining about "high gasoline prices" in the US.

Then try walking somewhere, and using public transport, as I did on my recent trip. People would walk up to me and ask if I was OK, or ask where I was visiting from. People who don't look poor mostly Just Don't Walk.

(I asked the hotel receptionist for directions to an art gallery, and she recommended a taxi for a 900 metre walk!)

Re:shhhh! (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031988)

or ask where I was visiting from.
(I asked the hotel receptionist for directions to an art gallery, and she recommended a taxi for a 900 metre walk!)

So you *were* visiting from somewhere else.

(Translation: around half a mile. A meter is a little more than a yard, so ~= 2700 feet, a little over a half a mile.)

Re:shhhh! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034380)

or ask where I was visiting from.
(I asked the hotel receptionist for directions to an art gallery, and she recommended a taxi for a 900 metre walk!)

So you *were* visiting from somewhere else.

Yes -- but I wasn't expecting people to be able to work that out based on my appearance and choice of inner-urban transport.

(Translation: around half a mile. A meter is a little more than a yard, so ~= 2700 feet, a little over a half a mile.)

900m is about 9 minutes brisk walk for me (100m/min).

Re:shhhh! (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38036558)

Yes -- but I wasn't expecting people to be able to work that out based on my appearance and choice of inner-urban transport.

Welcome to the land of strip malls and automobiles, where sidewalks are too expensive to build, and only the dirt poor and Mexicans should be seen using their feet for anything.

Re:shhhh! (1)

baegucb (18706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38039380)

One of the guys I work with doesn't drive. He found he got offers of rides by walking along carrying an empty gas can.

Re:shhhh! (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031200)

Sigh... it wasn't about taxation - it was about lack of representation - the unfair taxation was only a symptom of the problem...

BTW, that's the same thing that the OWS protesters are on about. They are spot on, while your corporate masters would like you to blame everything on taxes and start your own TEA party chapter.

Re:shhhh! (2)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031278)

No, sadly, the OWS protesters are not spot on. The problem is not wall street. The problem is politicians who, rather than use data driven decisions to do whats best for the entire country, continue to bow to special interests from both the right, and the left, in the name of self preservation. Then, after implementing "the next great solution to a problem that doesnt exist" ... fail to monitor the effects of said changes. Wall street is not the problem, "Roman Council 2.0 -- Bread and Circus" is to blame.

Re:shhhh! (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031622)

http://i286.photobucket.com/albums/ll117/sadloc/04reich-graphic-popup.jpg [photobucket.com]

The problem is that fairness in society has been eroded in the name of profit and wholesale greed. This is in large part because those that had much to gain effectively took control of not only government, but also political discourse by controlling the media to hard sell the great supply-side and deregulation myth. I don't think you can interpret those numbers in any other way.

I'm not expecting much from you, however. If you saw the cluestick that hit you on the head, you still won't know what it is.

Re:shhhh! (3, Informative)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031664)

Here's the original source graph from the NYTimes if anyone is interested.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/09/04/opinion/04reich-graphic.html [nytimes.com]

Re:shhhh! (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031708)

And here is the original NYTimes article that presented the graph -

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/opinion/sunday/jobs-will-follow-a-strengthening-of-the-middle-class.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]

Re:shhhh! (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033010)

An interesting chart for you ... US Imports from China 1985 to 2011

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5aAsxFJOeMw/TD5aK4Qha0I/AAAAAAAADXg/5Qe5ty42gBk/s1600/US-Imports-From-China-Doubling-Rate-Chart-Jan-1985-May-2010.PNG [blogspot.com]

Note how the exponential growth in imports from China correspond nicely will your chart that shows the average domestic wage remains flat. This would suggest the OWS protesters should be occupying China and and that our collective desire for cheap imported goods from China is to blame for the lack of growth in domestic wages. Is wall street to blame for imports from China ? Is the government to blame for allowing people to buy such vast quantities of goods from China ? If we tax businesses and wall street more, will they import more goods from China, and produce less product domestically, in order to remain profitable ? If we tax Chinese imports more, will job and wage growth return domestically ?

As painful as it may be, perhaps we need to just stop buying Chinese manufactured products, as consumers, and demand domestically produced products. It's not likely to happen, as I don't think the vast majority of the public realizes the $12 chinese car part is actually more expensive, in the long term, than the $18 domestically produced part, quality aside, because the $6 saved at point of purchase, will come back in spades in the form of no jobs, no paycheck, and accounting gimmicks concerning the national debt.

Re:shhhh! (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38037764)

Occupying China.. haha.. Seriously... Who do you think lowered the barriers to import the cheap consumer goods from China?

I'm sorry, but you're seriously deluded. There is only one solution, and that is to close the trade deficit at all costs (easiest way is devaluation of USD). Right now we're buying Chinese goods on cheap credit from, guess who?? China.

Re:shhhh! (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031974)

That is an excellent graph of the problem ... but contains no insight into a potential solution, other than the date range in which the inequality occoured. The data from that chart, needs to be aligned with various other sources of data, in order to find what exactly the problem is associated with. It's not logical to review the data outlining the problem, then run off screaming "shit is all screwed up damnit fix it fix it fix it tax that f'cker over there more!" because taxing that guy over there more might in fact be the source of the problem.

As for my opinion, the government is simply failing to make economic decisions that allow all of us to thrive, in an economic environment that is more global than ever. The chinese government, for all its moral problems, seems to have no problem making decisions based on data, and the good of its nation, as opposed to, reacting in a knee jerk fashion to the latest special interest group crying about whatever it is they are crying about today.

The only real, effective solutions to economic problems will come from economic data. It is self evident, unless you want to pretend that mathematics isn't logical and data is useless. At that point you would be free to reject all of science and simply do whatever your emotions lead you to do. Given that people consistently screw themselves economically, by making economic decisions based on emotions, I can predict with great confidence that won't make anything better.

Attacking who people are choosing to blame the problem on, due to lack of understanding, incomplete data, or emotional outburst, will not solve the problem.

If I had to make a prediction today, about what will ultimately come from OWS targeting of wall street and business, I predict that government will 1) pass legislation to passify OWS temporarily in order to get re-elected, which also satisfies the leaderships self preservation motivations and 2) the resulting legislation will in fact, continue to make the problem even worse, as barriers and penalties erected that prevent people from obtaining or keeping wealth, will in fact, make it even harder for the little guy to get ahead, while doing little to erode the wealth of those who have already collected it.

Re:shhhh! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033844)

That is an excellent graph of the problem ... but contains no insight into a potential solution, other than the date range in which the inequality occoured. The data from that chart, needs to be aligned with various other sources of data, in order to find what exactly the problem is associated with.

1979 is the year that Margret Thatcher got into power, followed in 1981 by Ronald Regan. There's the problem: the set of principles those two established as the norm - laissez faire, market economy, anti-union, low tax (for the rich), monetarism. Basically, if you look at any issue and ask What would Thatcher do? That's the problem right there. Do the opposite of what Thatcher would do and you're probably in the right direction for solving the problem.

Re:shhhh! (1)

cjsm (804001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033012)

Sure its corrupt politicians - politicians corrupted by the wealthy. You talk like the politicians are equally corrupted by the poor and the rich. Bullshit. 99% of the corruption goes in favor of the rich, along with a few crumbs thrown by the Democrats to the poor and middle class. If the working and middle class had any power, we'd have had single payer heath care, instead of a giveaway to the insurance companies. There would have been real bank reform instead the watered down bills which basically continue BAU. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would have been repealed. You can survey the news for the last 30 years and write an encyclopedia about how one sided the corruption of the politicians is in favor of the rich.

Re:shhhh! (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031434)

FYI ... I have no corporate masters ... I am self employed. As for the TEA party, try to understand how, when your government is ineffective, the logical solution is less government, and more personal responsibility, not a larger, more ineffective government.

Re:shhhh! (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031480)

That is the exact same logic homeopaths use. Less is more! "Is your house drafty? Your insulation is ineffective. Better install less next time!"

Re:shhhh! (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031538)

I think perhaps your emotions have clouded your logic. Homeopaths advocate the use of "a little bit more of the problem" to fix the "really large amount of problem." ... ie "hair of the dog that bit you." Which, when constructed into a proper analogy, would be "Your house is drafty ? You need to open more windows and doors."

Re:shhhh! (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031576)

That's tea party logic, part two, of course: Deny, derail and nitpick. How about addressing the point? How is less of something more effective?

Re:shhhh! (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38047958)

Homeopaths advocate magic to solve medical problems.

Re:shhhh! (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031510)

Wrong again. It's not that government is not effective.. actually it is too effective.. in furthering the military-industrial-financial establishment and transferring the wealth of the middle-classes to the rich...

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1 [businessinsider.com]

The only people the benefited from the increase in productivity in the past 30 years are the rich. That's what the OWS protesters are angry about.

Re:shhhh! (3, Insightful)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031744)

It's no secret that business is motivated by profit. It's also no secret, that government is responsible for the environment in which business operates. Another non-secret, is that money flows towards those who treat it well. Businesses, large and small, use money, to obtain more money. This is why the rich get richer. They treat money really well. This is not a crime.

Those who understand money is a tool, and a form of communication, will undoubtedly do better than those who do not understand as well how to use the tool that is money to prosper and thrive.

If the OWS protesters are complaining about not having any money, or opportunity, what exactly is it they expect the business people of Wall Street to do about it ? Should wall street write a big check to them ? If you feed a dog, it will return for more food the next time it is hungry. Do the OWS protesters expect the government to solve the problem ? If so, why are they not called "Occupy Washington D.C.," for that is where the environment in which business operates is determined.

While the outrage being displayed by the OWS protesters may in fact be legitimate, their target is not. Their target, as evidenced by the very title of their protest, is business, and wall street ... people who are treating money very well. It is the government, and the politicians and leaders therein, who are destroying the environment which would provide the opportunity the OWS protesters claim they desire. For all of Obamas speeches concerning job creation, his administration just put the pipeline project that would have created 20,000 jobs, and opportunity for the working lower and middle class to earn an income, on the shelf, in the name of his re-election campaign, in order to pacify the environmentalists, who live in denial about the fact that we are going to use the oil, whether or not the pipeline is built, and it is this type of behavior from our elected officials that is to blame for the current poor economic environment.

The message the OWS protesters are choosing to send to the public at large, is, "business is greedy ... we want money too" .... contemplate the irony here.

FYI ... the OWS protest group has supposedly had $750,000 donated to it. How can you continue to cry about no opportunity, when you operate a business that has as low an overhead as camping in a public park, and generates that much in revenue ? If they are not in fact self interested and concerned about the great amount of money they have just obtained, and are more concerned with the greater good, then again, they should be protesting D.C. and the government, not wall street. By targeting "wall street" and "business" they are behaving in a manner that indicates the true nature of their outrage is simple jealousy from coveting thy neighbors property.

Also, lets assume for the moment, that government should raise taxes on the rich in response to the OWS protesters demands. This will 1) increase the motivation of the business community to make even more money, and work that much harder, and treat money with that much more respect and 2) decrease the motivation for the recipients of said "welfare" to value the money they have been given, because they didn't work and sacrifice and earn it themselves. This strategy is certainly no solution.
Before I get totally flamed for all of this, I will say I do support a better economic environment for all. I think everyone would like to see that. It is the target of outrage, and potential solutions, that I feel are misplaced.

Re:shhhh! (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031872)

yes, but how many of said "rich" business people also benefit from the largesse of the government, but don't want to have that called "welfare"? That could be government contracts, subsidies, or the government picking up costs for those businesses... Obvious conditions are the government eating the cost to clean up after businesses have long gone out of business, storing their hazardous wastes for them, etc.

Re:shhhh! (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38037748)

Just another round of talking-points and logical fallacies, but really, you're wasting your time.

The protesters aren't saying "business is greedy ... we want money too". That might be what it sounds to the elite (and to you). To the rest of us, they are highlighting the unfairness in the current system and they want the voices representing the rest of us heard, not just the voices paid for by monied interests.

Re:shhhh! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38050188)

If so, why are they not called "Occupy Washington D.C"

That has been tried to death. This time they figured they would explicitly point to the problem area that D.C. needs to fix.

The message the OWS protesters are choosing to send to the public at large, is, "business is greedy ... we want money too" .... contemplate the irony here.

The only irony is you being unable to comprehend a demand for fair distribution.

FYI ... the OWS protest group has supposedly had $750,000 donated to it. How can you continue to cry about no opportunity, when you operate a business that has as low an overhead as camping in a public park, and generates that much in revenue ?

If all of that cash went to a single person for a year's work, they still wouldn't match the bonus check of one of the people they're complaining about. If it went to 10 people for a year, it would make a decent income. Going to 100, it's not even minimum wage. Going to 1000, it's not even going to cover lunch. Why don't you try using a calculator next time?

Re:shhhh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38036546)

"You can't solve problems caused by the concentration of power by concentrating more power" is my preferred method of expressing this.

What all this populism really comes down to is "it should be MY turn now" which really... I can't get behind. You lost in life, what is to make me think you'd do a good job running things?

Re:shhhh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030736)

That's OK. Only a small part of the country is "yanks". Try calling somebody from Alabama a "yank". See what happens.

Re:shhhh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034186)

Sshhh! You'll upset all the yanks who think they invented everything.

That's OK. Only a small part of the country is "yanks". Try calling somebody from Alabama a "yank". See what happens.

That's okay, outside America "Yanks" is generally used to refer to all Americans.

Personally, I know the alleged difference but I'm damned if I'm pandering to the desires of a bunch of Yanks.... er, *Americans* that I give a toss about it. You're well known for being pig ignorant about even the most basic details of other countries, so why should we care when you whine about minor differences?

Like I give a shit about Alabama anyway, I've never been there and have no intention of ever doing so, as I'm not interested in racism and incest.

Re:shhhh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38033106)

I thought Steve Jobs invented that?

Computer Illiteracy In 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030466)

So computers have been in the workplace for 60 years, and middle aged people still have problems with them?

There's no excuse for computer illiteracy anymore. This stuff has been going on since before most of the workforce was born.

Re:Computer Illiteracy In 2011 (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030560)

right. long before. back when only one company in the uk was doing it with no internet, and everyone else was using a desk phone and rolodex, ledger and pen. it certainly wasn't the HOME (as opposed to business) computer - tied to the internet - that even made the term "computer literate" mean anything to the average person. you're a dolt.

Re:Computer Illiteracy In 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030948)

You're right. They didn't have computers in every office until at least the early '70s. People have only had 40 years to learn. And computers have been a fixture in every home since only about 1991.

Re:Computer Illiteracy In 2011 (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031526)

You are on crack. Computers weren't ubiquitous in the workplace until well into the 1980's, and even then, it was mostly terminals where the extent of literacy is that they knew to hit PF3 to save. Personal computers in the workplace weren't really ubiquitous until the 1990's sometime.

Re:Computer Illiteracy In 2011 (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033614)

Only in the media. My Mum (age 85) has just given up on a PC she was given, and switched back to Apple. She has been a computer user since Fortran II.

Of course some old people think that some modern computing ideas are stupid: eg social media is not for anyone who thinks privacy is useful

Unix user since 1978 - Now get off my lawn.

And ended with coffee shops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030512)

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Remember to tip your waitresses!

Re:And ended with coffee shops. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033756)

Lyons were British. Tipping has never been a major part of British culture (instead relying on decent wages).

from Singular to Personal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030850)

32 years from LEO I to VisiCalc. It's been nearly that long again since VisiCalc.

36 years from LEO I to the IBM PC, which is pretty much the first major personal computer with a business plan that didn't rely on Christmas-season sales.

You've got to hand it to the board - (3, Insightful)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031990)

Kudos to the board of Lyons for being so interested in new technology.

A large catering company, doing its catering thing, scopes out the current state of the art and decides to give 3000 pounds - a considerable sum in the '50s - and an engineer's time to a university to complete a prototype, then goes on to spin it into a pretty successful business in it's own right.

That's a pretty big leap into the unknown for a catering business.

Re:You've got to hand it to the board - (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38032438)

Kudos to the board of Lyons for being so interested in new technology.

A large catering company, doing its catering thing, scopes out the current state of the art and decides to give 3000 pounds - a considerable sum in the '50s - and an engineer's time to a university to complete a prototype, then goes on to spin it into a pretty successful business in it's own right.

That's a pretty big leap into the unknown for a catering business.

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brilliant product - shame on the Government (1)

speardane (905475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033868)

and people got trained that computing was a tool to solve business problems. not - the more familiar now - here's a bit of kit who can we talk into buying it... yet another great product mismanaged. there again the British government got it all wrong - just like the Enigma machine & Alan Turing - better to hound him to death (as a gay security risk); hand the technology to the USA and block any use of any UK based experience for 30 years...

No problem with the size of it, I guess (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032010)

After showing off a pile of hardware the size of a small house, the announcer states, "...and it can be installed anywhere!".

Re:No problem with the size of it, I guess (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032312)

Technically true, but not practically true

Re:No problem with the size of it, I guess (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032476)

Computers may have changed over the years, but marketing bullshit sure hasn't.

Later machines and the British computer industry (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033146)

The LEO series continued for a while. A few mergers later there was the English Electric LEO Marconi KDF9, [wikipedia.org] an elegant stack machine closer to a Java VM than anything in current hardware. English Electric Leo Marconi was swallowed up by International Computers Limited, which was formed by the merger of Ferranti and International Computers and Tabulators, which had been formed by the merger of Powers-Samas and the British Tabulating Machine Company.

This mess was partially owned by the British government. ICL was never very successful, and its main customer was the British government. It ground on until 2002, until it was finally sold to Fujitsu.

Re:Later machines and the British computer industr (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033630)

The main problem was government "assistance". Harold WIlson's soviet style policy of merging Spurs and Arsenal, turned out to be a bad idea, as in the car industry. Winston Churchill said "export or die" and when Mrs Thatcher decided to back the "die" option it was the final nail in the coffin. We are still sufering from that today.

In reality the UK was massively ahead of the USA in software until Mrs Thatcher. Under her government there was a barrage of media coverage encouraging the public to believe that the USA was more advanced, and the City, who would rather believe the likes Murdock than find out the truth, dumped their inventments in the UK's software companies.

Unfortunately, this also coincided with the rise of the PC, which meant that there were a lot of new users who also believed this guff, and the British software industry was almost wiped out.

Re:Later machines and the British computer industr (1, Troll)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033694)

Don't underestimate Thatcher - she freed us from the tyranny of the coal unions (and it really was a tyranny), and we have benefitted from that and other such acts ever since.

Re:Later machines and the British computer industr (1)

lastx33 (2097770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034016)

Unfortunately, Thatcher and her City backers didn't believe there was any future in making things and pursued policies to run down industry in the UK. They believed, as has every government since and indeed most governments around the world, that the only thing that matters is the comfort of the spivs who make their fortunes by gambling in the casinos that are the financial centres of the world. The reason for this is clear - the spivs fund the political parties. Thus, off-shoring to the cheapest labour market, lack of domestic investment in technology and the taking of obscene profits by a few have guaranteed that the west is descending into third world status.

Re:Later machines and the British computer industr (2, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034398)

At the start of Thatchers reign, coal was running at a huge loss, steel was running at a huge loss, the energy companies were running at huge losses, British Rail was running at a huge loss etc etc etc See where I'm going with this?

There really is no point in propping up a domestic industry which has no market - find other, better things to do.

Re:Later machines and the British computer industr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38039344)

Tell that to affected mining communities around the Scottish border. I believe you'll find some opposition to the means your sentiments validated.

Re:Later machines and the British computer industr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38101180)

The LEO story continued for many years after incorporation into English Electric LEO, then EELM with the addition of some Marconi divisions, all renamed English Electric Computers. Ferranti Computers [excluding the military division] was swallowed up by ICT in 1967/8 and ICL only came into existence with the merger of ICT and English Electric Computers in April 1968. Tony Benn, the Minister of Technology, sponsored this merger to try to make a company big enough to take on the might of the US industry. In those days IBM had a permanent order book for EVERY product on the day it was launched - many from the US government. No British company could challenge that sort of favouritism at the time and ICL bravely tried to. At one stage it was the most successful supplier of point-of-sale terminals in the US but parochial purchasing soon put a stop to that!

Lyons didn't just make tea and computers.. (3, Interesting)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033178)

Lyons didn't just make tea and computers.. a couple of miles away from where I live is an underground munitions factory (ROF Elstow [bedfordshire.gov.uk] ) which was operated during WWII by the Lyons company. It might seems daft going from tea to weapons, but Lyons tea shops were models of how to handle the supply chain and distribution, so it all worked rather well.

Zuse Z4, about 1946 or 1947 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38033498)

The Zuse Z4 was not originally designed with business use in mind, unlike the computer mentioned in the article. However, after WWII, the Zuse Z4 was used for business purposes of Sennerei Lehern in Füssen for some time before being moved to ETH Zürich in 1950.

They're still making them big... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034024)

The lovely and amply-bosomed Nigella Lawson [wikipedia.org] is an heiress of the founding family.

On the aniversary, we should all have ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035470)

a Tea Party.

"All hail our tea- and biscuit-powered..." (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38037262)

So then, considering what the British mean when they say "biscuit", would these have been the first computer cookies?

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