Leeds nostalgia: Back when owning a home computer made headline news

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There was a time, not that long ago for some, when owning a computer was big news, as the following snippets prove.

We’re talking before the days when everyone walked around and actually looked where they were going and even - shock, horror - looked passers-by in the eye and had the courage to utter the word: “Hello”, or more likely in these parts, “How do?”

The year was 1981 and computers, even though they were the size of washing machines, were big news.

On March 15 of that year, John Swain, 19, extreme left on the picture, had to look on with his parents, Mr and Mrs Geoffrey Swain, and brothers David, seven, and Richard, 17, as his brother James, 16, took over control of the Christmas present given to John by his parents.

John wanted the computer to help him with his work at Park Lane College.

In another article from the same year, this time November 30: “A pig farmer is really saving his bacon with the help of a £1,500 computer system.

“Peter Waterhouse, 72, of Poole Bank Farm, near Otley, uses the computer for his accounts and to calculate feeding costs for the 80 sows on his farm and thier offspring - often more than 600 animals.

“Mr Waterhouse a former civil servant, who began farming at the age of 55, became interested in computers six months ago, after visiting an exhibition while on holiday in Brighton.

“Shortly afterwards he became one of the founder members of the Leeds Computer Users Group, which boasts a membership of 80, and quickly began to realise the business potential of his new interest.

“Mr Waterhouse said: ‘It would take me hours and hours each month to work out the accounts and feeding costs manually.’

He added: “Farming is mostly statistics these days.”

November was also the month when the first computerised cinema box office was unveiled in Leeds.

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