R Smith suggesting a joint research and development project between IBM and

R smith suggesting a joint research and development

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boss and wrote a letter to C. R. Smith suggesting a joint research and development project between IBM and American Airlines (Mapstone, 1980). The project development with American went on for about five years and eventually led to a contract proposal from IBM in 1958. At first the team at American did not have a name for their company-specific project, but in 1959, the project manager decided to call it
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Distribution 222 Sabre 1 which stood for Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment. In 1959, American accept IBM’s proposal and in 1960 American installed the first Sabre system in New York. Sabre’s magnetic drums held 7.2 million characters containing records for seat inventories and flight schedules and another 800 million character disk memory held passenger information, making it the largest private real-time data processing system in the country at that time. Because of the ground- breaking nature of the project, there were a few setbacks and it wasn’t until 1964 that Sabre became fully operational, initially with 1,500 remote terminals, mostly in airline reservations offices and selected travel agencies (Mapstone, 1980). Sabre turned out to be a 400 man-year effort costing American Airlines $40 million however, Sabre saved American 30% on reservations staffing (“Sabre history,” n.d.). Sabre’s big technological breakthrough was the inclusion of passenger-name record (PNR) information, tying a passenger’s name to a seat reservation (Copeland & McKenney, 1988). The lack of PNR was one of the main limitations of the Reservisor. Sabre allowed agents to book flights directly, bypassing telephone calls to the airline to check flight availability and confirm bookings. Figure 8.5 Sabre advertisement. From IBM 100: Icons of Progress, n.d. Before the 1960s, nonstandard paper tickets were issued by airlines. If the airline provided blank ticket stock, travel agents could handwrite tickets. Later, travel agencies began issuing tickets via RCA 1 Accounts vary, but apparently IBM’s umbrella SABER project was also being looked at by Delta and Pan Am, so American needed a unique name for their system presumably in order to copyright it (Mapstone, 1980). Most say Sabre stands for Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment (simply swapping the last two words from the original SABER), but others say the name came into being after an executive saw an advertisement for a Buick LaSabre in a magazine (Boyd, 2007; Petzinger, 1995; Copeland & McKenney, 1988; McKenney, Copeland, & Mason, 1995). The Sabre ® company today states that historically the name was an acronym for Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment, but now treats the name as if was not an acronym at all (“Sabre History,” 2013).
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Distribution 223 teletype machines that they purchased and linked via telephone lines to airlines. Eventually, in 1972, the International Air Transport Association developed a standardized paper ticket.
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