At the tail end of the 1940s Ray Shaw answered a job advertisement placed by J Lyons & Co. The country’s largest catering company was looking for a senior ex-serviceman who had worked in radar research. What it omitted to say was that it was recruiting a team to build the world’s first computer for business applications.
With several London hotels to its name, Lyons also owned the Trocadero, ran a food manufacturing business and owned 200-odd Lyons corner houses. Often four or five-storeyed, with a food hall on the ground floor, the corner shops were at one time open 24 hours a day. For Lyons the scale of administration, from the payroll of 30,000 employees to each tea shop’s daily phone order noted down