RIP Tony Benn, Early Advocate of the British Computing Industry

By Gerald Lynch on at

Tony Benn, Labour party politician and former Cabinet Minister has died, aged 88. While Benn will largely be remembered for his often-radical left-wing stance, Benn was also among the first British politicians to predict the importance of having a solid computing industry in the country.

The Minister of Technology between 1966 and 1970 under Harold Wilson's term in office, Benn formed the International Computers Limited Initiative in 1968. Part of the Industrial Expansion Act of the Wilson government, the company pulled together computer hardware, software and services from disparate manufacturers and providers, with the aim to compete on a global level with the likes of IBM. Mainframe computers proved to be ICL's most successful products, with the ICL 2900 Series its most successful range.

ICL's enjoyed significant sales overseas, but much of its business relied on UK public sector clients, such as the Post Office, Inland Revenue, Ministry of Defence and DWP. ICL operated until 2002, before being bought out and rebranded by Fujitsu.

Benn also was instrumental in getting the iconic Concorde airplanes into the skies, though some claim his interest was less in the supersonic plane's technology and more in the jobs the project brought to his Bristolian constituents.

RIP Tony Benn -- 1925 - 2014

Image Credit: Tony Benn from Shutterstock.com