Kyrle Probus Club
   of Ross-on-Wye

 

‘The Early Days of Computing.’ - 18th July 2013

Everyone has their own personal memories of their first contact with computers but Jim Hamilton’s must surely rank among the more bizarre. He had been invited to attend a routine job interview, his first on leaving university, but was unable to read the scrawled signature on the letter. He felt too diffident to pursue the matter and so applied as an ‘operator’ to Lyons of Lyons Tea House fame. In 1952 Lyons were developing their Lyons Electronic Office which in the course of time was to develop into Leo Computers and so Jim’s career in computing began!
Instead of an operator he was employed as a programmer and witnessed the first commercial use of computers. By the late 50s Leo Computers were being built commercially and by the early 60s major technological innovations such as transistors were becoming common but bureau services were  developed as computers were still too expensive and complex for many businesses.   Jim’s career progressed via Honeywell (heating controls) and Guardian Royal Exchange (insurance) where he was resident programmer. But saving the best till last, the undoubted pinnacle of Jim’s career was to become webmaster for Kyrle Probus Club – no pay but great perks!
Jim enchanted his audience with his talk, making then appreciate that they had all seen history in the making. Throughout he described the characters, devolopments and situations (often of the unintended consequences sort) which laid the foundations of a modern industry so it was entirely appropriate that he was given the accolade of two Votes of Thanks – the official one and the unofficial but heartfelt one, given by the club member who had spent much of his career recycling wastepaper!
 (To find out more about Kyrle Probus Club visit us at www.kyrleprobusross.org.uk)

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