World’s first systems analyst dies

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David Caminer, a pioneer of commercial computing, has died at the age of 93..

Caminer is widely credited as the first ever computer systems analyst for his work on the world’s first business computer, which was built by J. Lyons and Company, then Britain’s largest catering firm.

Caminer was then head of systems management at the company and when Lyons decided to build a computer, Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) for its use in 1951. Caminer wrote the programs that ran on it on the system, which was eventually sold around the world to companies such as Ford, Imperial Tobacco and the Soviet Union.

He designed the first flow charts to show how software should be written and the punchcard operated system was soon running a variety of applications.

The computer was used to automate stock control and payroll functions initially and was so successful that it was also outsourced to companies such as Ford for similar functions.

The 500Khz computer cut the average time to calculate a worker’s salary from eight minutes to 1.5 seconds and enabled the company to analyse sales in order to maximize profitability.

Eventually Lyons split its computer division into a new company under Caminer’s leadership called LEO Computers Ltd, which eventually became ICL in 1968.

Born David Tresman in 1915 Caminer took his stepfather’s name and joined Lyons in 1936 after failing his entrance examinations to Cambridge.

An ardent anti-fascist who marched against Oswald Mosley, he joined the army during the Second World War and lost a leg in the Battle of Mareth in Tunisia before rejoining Lyons on his return home.

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