Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Tea time for computer age gallery

The Science Museum is looking for people who worked as managers in the Lyons Tea Houses in the 1950s
The Science Museum is looking for people who worked as managers in the Lyons Tea Houses in the 1950s
The Leo I electronic computer was the world's first business computer (Science Museum/SSPL/PA)

The search is on for tea shop staff who took part in a pioneering project that first brought computer technology into the workplace.

Researchers at the Science Museum want to hear from people who worked as managers in the Lyons Tea Houses in the 1950s when the firm introduced a basic form of computer.

The Lyons Electronic Office (LEO 1) was the world's first business computer and the museum wants to hear from people who used it, for a display in its £15.6 million Information Age gallery.

The 5,000 sq ft machine, introduced by the firm in November 1951, helped staff calculate how many cakes needing baking and track orders placed in the 200 tea shops around the country.

Tilly Blyth, keeper of technologies and engineering, said, "The Lyons tea shop managers contributed to a landmark moment in the history of computing. Their stories will personalise and contextualise LEO 1, illuminating how the British love of tea and cakes heralded a new computer age."

Tea shop managers or their relatives are asked to contact the Science Museum in London by emailing stories@sciencemuseum.ac.uk or registering directly on the website www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/stories by June 28.

The Information Age gallery opens next September and tells the story of the advance of technology over the last 200 years.

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