In 1928 English astronomer and mechanical computation pioneer Leslie J. Comrie, working in London, discovered how to use a commercial accounting machine as a difference engine. With this technique Comrie reformed the production of the Nautical Almanac, greatly increasing the accuracy of the navigation tables.
Comrie used electric punched-card tabulating machines to calculate the motions of the moon. This project, in which twenty million holes were punched into five hundred thousand cards, continued into 1929. It was the first use of punched cards in a purely scientific application.
In 1937 Comrie founded Scientific Computing Service in London. It was the first independent scientific computing service bureau in the world