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Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129891D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

DUNCAN G. COPELAND: AUTHOR [+4]

Abstract

This article describes the evolution of reservations processing at American Airlines, which became critical in the 1950s as passenger volumes threatened to overwhelm electromechanical and manual filing methods. American Airlines' Advanced Process Research Department sought technical solutions for determining the availability of space on planes, adjusting the inventory of seats, and recording passenger information. Conventional data processing equipment offered scant help, and equipment vendors were not interested in the application until the mid-1940s when the Teleregister Corporation agreed to build a system based on American's model The resulting ";Peservisor"; system was only a partial solution. In the late 1950s, IBM teamed with American Airlines to devise a teleprocessing solution -- Sabre.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition

DUNCAN G. COPELAND

RICHARD O. MASON

JAMES L. MCKENNEY

This article describes the evolution of reservations processing at American Airlines, which became critical in the 1950s as passenger volumes threatened to overwhelm electromechanical and manual filing methods. American Airlines' Advanced Process Research Department sought technical solutions for determining the availability of space on planes, adjusting the inventory of seats, and recording passenger information. Conventional data processing equipment offered scant help, and equipment vendors were not interested in the application until the mid-1940s when the Teleregister Corporation agreed to build a system based on American's model The resulting "Peservisor" system was only a partial solution. In the late 1950s, IBM teamed with American Airlines to devise a teleprocessing solution -- Sabre.

When fully implemented, Sabre established a dominant design for reservations processing that was copied throughout the airline industry. Functional enhancements transformed Sabre from a reservations system into a passenger services system that supported many additional aspects of airline operations. Widespread access to Sabre for travel agents coincided with regulatory reform that was redefining competition in the industry. Sabre was transformed again into a sales distribution system. American's management exploited Sabre's latent economies of scale and scope to survive, and ultimately thrive, in a deregulated environment.

The management of passenger aircraft capacity had humble beginnings. It first became an issue during the 1920s, when the airmail planes had a single empty seat. The control concept was a simple one: recording the name of the passenger who wanted to use the seat on a particular day. The matter became complicated with the introduction of aircraft with multipassenger cabins. The reservations process involved three steps: determining the availability of space, adjusting the inventory, and recording passenger names.

The experimental years

The reservations system used by American Airlines (AA) during the 1930s was based on centralized control of seat inventories maintained at a flight's initial point of departure. This Request and Reply system required an AA sales agent to communicate with inventory control before a seat could be confirmed to a passenger. The system required two messages -- the request and the reply -- and the passenger had to wait for an additional telephone call from the agent for advisement of his/her status.

In addition to the availability of seats for a flight, the reservations function required a second piece of information called a passenger-name record (PNR). Upon c...