All of the first computers were invented for military purposes in the nineteen forties and fifties. Once the war was over though, the second major role of the computer was in business. They were used at first for simple tasks like taking a census or monitoring minor activities in the finances of a business. The first business computer was called UNIVAC1. LEO was soon to follow.




UNIVAC1 was used for the first time in 1951 to take a United States census. This computer was invented by John Mauchly and J. Eckert. Theirs was the first computer to use a compiler and store programs. The United Kingdom was first introduced to business computers in 1953. These were called the Lyon Electronic Office computers, or LEO for short. LEO was first used by a restaraunt company for their accounting.


The computer cards shown here are an example of the kind that were used. These cards were used to put programs into computers. It would take one card just to execute a few simple commands. You can only imagine how long it took to put a whole program onto a computer!!

There were generally four major business applications for computers in the ninteen sixties and seventies.

  • The computer as a clerk : These computers would handle large amounts of repetitive clerical work. Most of the early business computers fit into the "clerk" category and many today still do.
  • The computer as an information system : These computers would try to gather, predict, and store data. Because computers weren't very sophisticated back then, the technology that used to provide such services wasn't able to give any real results. Because of this, companies that used these computers went out of business quickly.
  • The computer with the first drafting technology : These computers were used for designing crude and small buildings or crude vehicles and aircraft.
  • The computer as a controller : They were fed information that responded with programs that were already installed. The programs would help a computer decide on raising or maintaining certain information such as investing in stocks.

Business computers today may be used to control an industrial process e.g. regulating valves to control air flow or for reserving plane tickets from several different locations at once. However, modern computers are still used for determining merger decisions, architectual design, and the like. Now, we are going to look at the various ways that computers can be used in industry, banking, health sector and other business environments.

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