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Pioneer behind IT systems design dies

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Peter Hermon’s career has spanned IT and management, including deploying LEO computers in industry and integrating when BA was formed IT Systems

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  • LEO Pioneer Peter Hermon, who oversaw the technical integration of airlines BEA and BOAC to form the BA in the 1970s, has died aged 93.

    Hermon began his IT career in 1954 with J Lyons & Co. There he began studying computing as part of a distinguished team of British computing pioneers who developed the world’s first commercial computer and the applications that ran on it.

    He was responsible for installing the first second generation LEO 2 computer for the Empire Tobacco Company in Bristol. The complexity of tobacco company pricing and credit terms resulted in the largest and most complex suite of procedures attempted at the time.

    Subsequently, in 1959, an integrated sales accounting system was installed, a concept many years in advance, on the first third generation LEO 3 computer for the Dunlop Rubber Company in Fort Dunlop Run, where he worked until 1965.

    Hermon then joined the airline BOAC, where he developed a computer system covering all aspects of the airline’s business activities, including reservations, departure control, message exchange, flight planning, flight crew Scheduling, engineering and financial control. This morphed into Project Boadicea, a computer network linking cities around the world, from the US to New Zealand, from Finland to South Africa, to a central computer complex in London.

    When BOAC merged with BEA to form British Airways in 1972, Hermon was tasked with integrating two separate computer installations based on IBM and Univac equipment. He wrote a report for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which led to the full integration of the two airlines in 1976 to create British Airways.

    Much of British Airways’ later computer success is what Hermon attributes to his time at LEO. The team he built at BA included no less than 9 managers from LEO Computers and many other ex-LEO personnel

    His last appointment at BA was as Director of LEO Computers General Manager of the airline’s European division. After graduating with a BA, Hermon joined Tandem Computers as UK Managing Director. A short stint at Lloyds of London followed.

    He then moved to Harris Queensway as a freelance management consultant, handling assignments for companies such as Saatchi and Saatchi, Argos and Credit Lyon. In 1970, he was appointed part-time adviser to the civil service on computer strategy, and later served in the government’s Central Computing Agency.

    After retiring, Hermon wrote a book on the development of computers called the LEO Computer, which in England was named User-driven innovation and authored two volumes Hill – Walking in Wales , and unveiled

    , an easy-to-understand Bible guide.

    Hermon married Norma Stuart Brealey in January 1954 and the marriage lasted 57 years until her death in 2011. They had four children: David (who preceded him in 1976), Juliet, Robert and Caroline. He also has six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He married Patricia Cheek for the second time in December 2016.

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