Time for a change? Meet the ‘Queen Geek’ who travels the world… photographing IBM cash registers

November 30, 2012 | by | 2 Comments

There’s no change in Leila Johnston’s dull hobby — travelling thousands of miles to photograph cash registers.

Pretty Leila, 33, is only interested in IBM-made registers and has spent the last year tracking down tills in shops, cafes and pharmacists and posting them online.

Amazingly, the 45 photos she posted on her finalbullet.com blog have attracted thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Leila Johnston travels the UK indulging her hobby of taking pictures of IBM cash registers

Leila Johnston travels the UK indulging her hobby of taking pictures of IBM cash registers

She was even given the chance to bring her strange obsession to a live audience when she was asked to speak at the annual Boring Festival in London earlier this month.

Leila, whose obsession began growing up near IBM’s Scottish plant in Inverclyde, said: “I’m interested in the technology behind everyday life and IBM registers are a big part of that so I thought it would be interesting to photograph them in use.

“Some people are a little confused when I tell them what I do. But once I explain they seem to get it.

An IBM cash register in Boots, Angel, London, that Leila photographed

An IBM cash register in Boots, Angel, London, that Leila photographed

An IBM cash register in Homebase, Sheffield

An IBM cash register in Homebase, Sheffield

“I think the fact that my topic is quite boring is actually what makes it interesting and I’ve always enjoyed the enthusiastic and very responsive audiences you get online.

“At the moment it’s just a hobby, I have no plans for it and other people seem to enjoy reading about it.”

From the age of four Leila spent her childhood playing with IBM components brought home from the plant by her friends and family.

While her school pals all had posters of pop stars plastered on their bedroom walls, madcap Leila used to gaze up at a huge picture of the nearby IBM building.

Leila made her first speech at the Boring Festival in 2010 and eight months ago came up with the idea of cataloguing cash registers when she noticed the IBM logo on a till in a Starbucks coffee shop in London.

From that moment on she has secretly snapped every IBM till she found.

Another till that Leila found in Boots, Borehamwood

Another till that Leila found in Boots, Borehamwood

An IBM cash register in Satrbucks

An IBM cash register in Satrbucks

The project sparked the imagination of James Ward, founder of the Boring Festival, an event that celebrates the mundane.

Leila, who now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, added: “I think it’d be unhealthy to take it too seriously, but the history of IBM is genuinely interesting, and as a company they are as worthy of our interest as Apple or Microsoft. But they have become invisible over the years.

“They are no longer associated with great technical achievement when I think they really ought to be. They invented the first PC after all.

“There is something about IBM machines that stand out. I’m like a moth to a flame because of the image that was imprinted in my brain when I was a child.”

Category: Pictures

Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Pity only 1% of this is actually true. Travels the world????

  2. Anonymous says:

    Leila is a Beauty..x

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