Web conference

The emergence of business computing in the UK and in Italy: a comparison between LEO Computers and Olivetti

February 4, 2021

LEO is the acronym of Lyons Electronic Office, a series of British computers manufactured for business applications by the catering firm J. Lyons & Co. between 1947 and 1963. Established in 1908 as the first Italian typewriter company, Olivetti entered the computer business through a joint venture with the University of Pisa in 1955.

The talk analyses both companies’ philosophies and business models, marketing strategies and computer design, offering an insight on approaches, technologies and patterns in the European computer industry during the 1950s and 1960s.


Elisabetta Mori is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in the history and philosophy of computing with Middlesex University, London, U.K. She is also a researcher with the University of Lille at the research lab Savoirs, Textes, Langage (UMR 8163) and a member of the ANR PROGRAMme Project. She attended courses on architecture in Eindhoven and Florence, from where she received the master’s degree (high Hons.) with a dissertation on the history and design of the first Italian commercial computer. The focus of her research is the European history of computing of the 1950s and 1960s, with a special attention to computers, industrial design and Human-Computer Interaction. Her collaborations include the Museum of Computing Machinery, Pisa University, Italy and the LEO Computers Society in the UK.