Douglas Comish obituary


My good friend and colleague Douglas Comish, who has died aged 97, was invited within the mid-Nineteen Fifties to affix the small band of people who had established J Lyons & Co, the meals empire finest identified for its Nook Homes, as the primary firm on this planet not simply to make use of however to assemble an digital digital pc to hold out the work of its clerical workers.

The Lyons administration had the foresight as early as 1947 to recognise the necessity to enhance their backroom clerical features and had the wit to see the opportunity of utilizing computer systems.

With the help of teachers at Cambridge College, Lyons put collectively a staff to develop what was to turn out to be Leo, the Lyons Digital Workplace. Leo I used to be put in at Cadby Corridor, the Lyons HQ in Hammersmith, west London, in 1951.

Such was the curiosity proven by different firms in what Lyons was doing that the board determined to arrange a subsidiary, Leo Computer systems, to construct, market and promote computer systems.

I first met Doug early on within the Leo story once we each labored within the Lyons Statistics Workplace. Doug had joined the J Lyons firm in 1949 as a administration trainee. The Statistics Workplace was accountable for the costings of various components of the Lyons enterprise and answered administration’s “what if” questions of the type: “What could be the affect of fixing the recipe for our Swiss rolls?”

Doug had risen to be the top of a staff overseeing a gaggle of Lyons departments and I used to be a humble clerk who sorted, amongst others, the Lyons laboratories, the place Margaret Thatcher had as soon as labored as a chemist. At the moment I merely revered Doug as somebody I perceived to be in command, with a bluff and direct method, however nicely preferred by his colleagues.

He was chosen to affix Leo Computer systems in 1956. He undertook many essential roles within the evolving British pc trade, as underneath aggressive strain it went by means of successive mergers and takeovers, with the creation in 1968 of ICL, made up of initially seven firms. Doug constructed a extremely succesful unit of individuals to whom he was intensely loyal and he had the tenacity to attain the objectives the corporate had set him, together with product growth and managing the profitable buy of the Singer stitching machine firm. He retired from ICL in 1986.

Born in Liverpool, to John Comish, a salesman, and Mona (nee Moore), a housewife, Doug studied maths at King’s Faculty, Cambridge, adopted by nationwide service within the military, the place he achieved the rank of captain.

He was an energetic sportsman, enjoying soccer for Cambridge College and later for Lyons, and a eager cricketer. He was additionally a golf fanatic, enjoying for so long as he may carry a membership.

Doug’s spouse, Mary (nee Morgan), whom he married in 1971, died in 2004. He’s survived by his accomplice, Sylvia Morris, three stepchildren, Martin, Carol, and Michael, from his marriage, seven grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.


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