Computer pioneer and tea-shop-automator David Caminer dies at 92

In today's NYT, an obituary for David Caminer, "the first corporate electronic systems analyst." He worked for the Lyons chain of tea shops in the UK, and developed early ways to use computers for business purposes in the 1950s, "including standardizing flavorful, cost-effective cups of tea." He died June 19 in London, at age 92. Snip:

The death was announced by the Leo Computers Society, whose purpose is to keep alive the memory of LEO, the computer Mr. Caminer helped develop for J. Lyons & Company. It was the world's first business computer, a distinction certified by Guinness World Records.

Lyons was the first company in the world to computerize its commercial operations, partly because it had so many of them: it had more than 200 teahouses in London and its suburbs, with each Lyons Corner House daily generating thousands of paper receipts and needing scores of fresh baked items.

In addition to running the tea shops, Lyons catered large events like tennis at Wimbledon and garden parties at Windsor Castle; it also operated hotels, laundries, and ice cream, candy and meat pie companies. And, of course, tea plantations.

As a result, the company required exceptionally efficient office support. So it was only natural it would look at the "electronic brains" that scientists in the United States were developing for scientific and military purposes as a way to streamline its own empire. Mr. Caminer's role was finding ways to retain traditional clerical rigor while speeding up the company's logistics and finances many times over.

David Caminer, a Pioneer in Computers, Dies at 92 [NYT]

See also: LEO Computers Website, "the LEO Computers Society, membership of which is open to all ex-employees of LEO Computers and its succeeding companies, and anyone who worked on a LEO computer."