From 1966—“People Who Really Count”: LEO III Computer

This 1966 film from LEO Computers Ltd. of the U.K. shows the LEO III transistorised computer installed at British Oxygen Company of Manchester. The LEO computer series, launched in 1951, was the world’s first computer designed for business applications. As described in the delightful history, A Computer Called LEO, it was not designed and built by an electronics or business machine company, but rather the operator of the Lyons Teashops in Britain, which wanted to automate their logistics and named the machine “Lyons Electronic Office”. Based upon the pioneering computer designs of the University of Manchester (many of which were, in turn, derived from top-secret codebreaking work at Bletchley Park during World War II), LEO would evolve into LEO II and LEO III, with a total of 72 machines built.

This film is an exemplar of a genre common in the 1960s, where the computer was presented as non-threatening to clerical workers who feared their jobs would be automated away, while at the same time explaining that due to the computer’s mindlessness, they much strive for perfection in the data they prepare for it to process.


They failed to take into account the emerging technocratic state and its voraceous positive-feedback demand for ever more data, to further enable micromanagement of society at ever finer levels of granularity. In my case, I used to work as a physician. Now I feed algorithms resident in computers. So, really, I am a (minimallly) glorified data entry clerk.


With so many hands on the records, it would be hard to falsify data – unlike today!.

In 2021 it is hard to trust the data, let alone the science!

1 Like