...integration calculations...world's first computer bureau...computerises bombing tables...computerises football pools...

"Actually the human link with the development of computing in relation to New Zealand goes back to Leslie John Comrie, who was born at Pukekohe [prn. Pu-ke-ko-he -- south of Auckland] in 1893. He went to France with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the First World War and lost a leg in action.


"While convalescing he began to use an early mechanical calculator. During the next 15 years Comrie concentrated on little else. In particular, he found new applications for Holerith punched card machinery. He then went on to discover that the six-register National [Cash Register?] accounting machine could be adapted to perform mechanically two exceptionally complex procedures -- differencing and finite integration. His work vastly streamlined all mathematical tabulation systems.


"In 1938, Comrie founded the world's first computer bureau. His firm of consultants dealt with calculation projects. And as the Second World War approached, he became increasingly busier.


"During the Second World War Comrie filled a pivotal role at the head of a dedicated team of 30 young scientists. The whole operation was applied to computerising the war effort. On one occasion the United States Air Force desparately needed a set of bombing tables. Comrie, armed only with his National calculator, worked around the clock to get the figures out.


"After the war Comrie plunged back into commercial work. He was behind the computerisation of the football pools in Britain. By the time Comrie had finished, the winners were announced on the Monday after the Saturday games. He had reduced the time it took to identify the winners by two days. He died at the realtively early age of 57, remembered mainly for his work in astronomy."

- quoted from Peter Isaac's "Computing in New Zealand" p64.

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