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The First Office Computers Compared to Modern Computers

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The First Office Computers Compared to Modern Computers

  • 22nd May 2018

Image result for leo computer

Derby is home to the first public park, and the first factory – Lombe’s Mill. In those days a “computer” was a person. Someone paid to calculate whatever needed to be calculated. It took another 100 years until anyone thought of mechanising the process and although Charles Babbage created the idea of a mechanised computer in 1837 it wasn’t until the advent of the electronic age that it became a real possibility.


Often regarded as the first office computer, LEO was built in 1951 and first ran a business application in September of that year. Input was in the form of paper tape or card and could run at 500 Khz (500 instructions per second). The hardware filled an entire room and required several members of staff to operate it. Nonetheless it was considered groundbreaking, cutting edge technology as it was faster than the research computers it had been based on.


In 1981 IBM released the IBM PC. It was the first computer to be cheap enough and small enough for mass use and it opened the floodgates for other computer manufacturers to create “IBM-compatible” PCs. It had 64kb of RAM and used a cassette for external storage.


Around the same time, 1983, Apple released the first mass-market computer with a graphical interface and mouse navigation – the Macintosh. It had 128kb of RAM, although a 512kb version was soon released, and a single 3.5” disc drive.

PC vs Mac

Today there is still a rivalry between the worlds of PC and Apple, although similar machines can be bought from either stable. IBM sold their personal computer business to Lenovo, but they are just one of hundreds of PC (or more commonly now, laptop) suppliers.

It is now possible to buy a computer that has 125 million times more RAM than the original PCs or Macs. They have terabytes of storage – an amount only theoretically considered in 1981 – yet weigh the same as a couple of bags of sugar and are thin enough to slide into almost any bag.

One thing has remained the same however. No matter how many instructions per second the processor can do or how many pieces of information it can handle, you will always find yourself waiting for it.

Good job RTC business park has 24 acres of landscaped grounds for you to gaze over while you wait!