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ReserVec: Trans-Canada Air Lines' Computerized Reservation System

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129803D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 17 page(s) / 62K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

ALAN DORNIAN: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The rapid growth of the airline industry in the immediate post-World War II years overwhelmed the manual reservation systems in use at that time. TransCanada Air Lines addressed this problem by developing ReserVec, a very early computerized airline reservation system that was designed and manufactured in Canada. ReserVec, unlike previous automated reservation systems, was fully programmable and ran on a general-purpose computer. The technology acquired from the development of ReserVec's Gemini computer was used first in the development of the Ferranti-Packard FP-6000 multiprogrammable computer (also developed in Canada) and then in the ICL 1900/2900 series of compatible computers.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1994 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

ReserVec: Trans-Canada Air Lines' Computerized Reservation System

ALAN DORNIAN

The rapid growth of the airline industry in the immediate post-World War II years overwhelmed the manual reservation systems in use at that time. TransCanada Air Lines addressed this problem by developing ReserVec, a very early computerized airline reservation system that was designed and manufactured in Canada. ReserVec, unlike previous automated reservation systems, was fully programmable and ran on a general-purpose computer. The technology acquired from the development of ReserVec's Gemini computer was used first in the development of the Ferranti-Packard FP-6000 multiprogrammable computer (also developed in Canada) and then in the ICL 1900/2900 series of compatible computers.

This article presents Trans-Canada Air Line's ReserVec system in the context of other automated airline reservation systems contemporary to ReserVec, including American Airline's Magnetronic Reservisor and SABRE systems.

The early 1950s was a period of tremendous growth for the airline industry in Canada and elsewhere. Although airlines were increasing fleet sizes to cope with the demands of the population, airline seats were still in short supply.1 Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) operated 49 passenger planes in 1952, and 66 passenger planes by the end of 1955. Although their 1956 seating capacity of 2,600 passengers was 90 percent larger than it had been in 1951, passenger demand had increased 104 percent during the same period. By 1957, TCA was boarding 250,000 passengers per month, and demand was continuing to grow.23

Passenger aircraft in the postwar period were short-ranged. Longer flights were broken up into flight legs, with each leg treated as a separate flight. Airline agents booked longer flights by assembling the various flight legs. Seat availability data were typically held at regional space control centers, where flight information was noted on manual display boards. The number of personnel in the centers was limited by the sight lines to the display boards. Communication between the local ticket office and space control centers was a slow and repetitive process accomplished via teletypewriter and telephone.

Trans-Canada Air Lines' flight inventory during this period was maintained on hardboard wall charts at its Toronto and other space control centers. The wall charts, referred to as visual seat indicator boards or VSIBs' displayed a running tally of seats sold. They were maintained initially by way of multiple erasures and rewrites and later by the placement of colored disks (see Figure
1). TCA's reservations control center was connected to the remote sales offices via 29,000 miles of teletypewriter and telephone lines. By the mid- 19SOs the control center received 35,000 messag...