The Open UniversitySkip to content

Britain's first computer centre for banking: What did this building do?

Martin, Ian (2009). Britain's first computer centre for banking: What did this building do? In: XV World Economic History Congress, 3-7 Aug 2009, Utrecht.

Full text available as:
PDF (Not Set) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (7MB)
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


At the beginning of the 1960s Barclays became the first British bank to open a computer centre. In this paper I trace the life of this building starting with its official opening on 4 July 1961 and ending with its protracted closure a decade later. From initial status as the most advanced bank bookkeeping system in the world serving as a highly visible symbol of the bank's technological power, to a final repurposing of its grandiose reception as a distribution point for pre- and post-decimalisation output, the building's various meanings are revealed. Making use of written, oral, and visual sources I explore the centre's spatial characteristics, its relation to the distributed structure of the branch, and its place as a first dedicated working home for a newly emerging computing subculture. A blend of multiple perspectives internally from the top down and bottom up, and externally from customer and competitor, offer an analysis that uncovers the part played by the first computer centre place in the banking automation race.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Computing and Communications
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 18526
Depositing User: Ian Martin
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2009 15:16
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 13:05
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU