The Community for Technology Leaders
RSS Icon
Issue No.03 - Fall (1995 vol.17)
pp: 30-57
<p>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 “Reservisor” system was only a partial solution. In the late 1950s, IBM teamed with American Airlines to devise a teleprocessing solution — Sabre.</p><p> 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.</p>
Richard O. Mason, James L. McKenney, "Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.17, no. 3, pp. 30-57, Fall 1995, doi:10.1109/85.397059
1. R.F. Burkhardt, “The Sabre System: A Presentation,” Oct.1, 1964.
2. A.E. Keller, “American Airlines Automates Reservations for the Jet Age,” Management and Business Automation, Jan. 1959.
3. C.E. Ammann, “Airline Automation: A Major Step,” Computers and Automation, Vol. 6, No. 8, Aug. 1957.
4. R.F. Meyer, American Airlines Sabre (A),Boston: Harvard Business School, Case No. EA-C 758, 1967.
5. C. Webb, Marathon, Fla., July9, 1986.
6. “The Cautious Pioneer,” Forbes, June1, 1956.
7. W.R. Plugge and M.N. Perry, “American Airlines‘Sabre’Electronic Reservations System,” AFIPS Conf. Proc., , Western Joint Computer Conf., 1961.
8. American Airlines, press release, Aug.17, 1956.
9. American Airlines, press release, May29, 1956.
10. American Airlines, undated, press release.
11. W. Plugge, Mar.1, 1991,Tulsa, Okla.
12. C. Taylor, Mar.1, 1991,Tulsa, Okla.
13. R.F. Meyer, American Airlines Sabre (B),Boston: Harvard Business School, Case No. EA-C 759, 1967.
14. C.J. Bashe, L.R. Johnson, J.H. Palmer, and E.W. Pugh, IBM's Early Computers.Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1986, p. 466-469.
15. “Operation by’62 Goal for Sabre,” Flagship News, American Airlines, Nov.16, 1959.
16. P. Crawford telephone interview, Dec.28, 1990.
17. J. Birkenstock telephone interview, Jan.2, 1991.
18. “A Proposal for the Development of an Electronic Data Processing System for Airline Customer Service Functions,” IBM Research, Project Saber, Sept.18, 1957.
19. J.R. Knight, “A Case Study: Airlines Reservations Systems,” Proc. IEEE, Vol. 30, No. 11, Nov. 1972.
20. American Airlines, “Sabre Presentation,” Oct.29, 1963.
21. C.R. Smith memorandum to C.A. Rheinstrom, executive vice president–sales, Apr.9, 1959.
22. W.R. Plugge letter to author, Mar.23, 1992.
23. “Set Up to Oversee Sabre Installation,” Flagship News, American Airlines, Mar.7, 1960.
24. Aviation Week&Space Tech., June20, 1983.
25. “Sabre Surpasses Other Res Systems,” Flagship News, American Airlines, Nov.13, 1961.
26. R.R. Everett, C.A. Zraket, , and H.D. Benington, “SAGE—A Data-Processing System for Air Defense,” Proc. Eastern Computer Conf., 1957.
27. C.M. Taylor letter to author, Mar.16, 1992.
28. M.E. Senko et al., “Data Structures and Accessing in Data-base Systems I: Evolution of Information Systems,” IBM Systems J., 1, 1973.
29. W.B. Elmore and G.J. Evans Jr., “Dynamic Control of Core Memory in a Real-Time System,” Proc. IFIP Congress 65, May 1965.
30. H. BedfordNorwalk, Conn., July23, 1986.
31. J. PaulDallas, Tex., Aug.11, 1986.
32. M.N. Perry, “Handling Very Large Programs,” Proc. IFIP Congress, 1965.
33. W. LiebeckAlamo, Calif., July18, 1986.
34. T. Ward, “Sabre: A Plate Seat—Presto!” The New York Post, Sept.15, 1964.
35. J.E. Siwiec, “A High-Performance DB/DC System,” IBM Systems J., 16, 1977.
36. L.D. Stevens, “The Evolution of Magnetic Storage,” IBM J. of Research and Development, Vol. 25, 1981.
37. H. Richter, “Thirty Years of Airline Operations Research,” Interfaces, Vol. 19, No. 4, 1989.
38. F. HeinzmannMiami, Fla., July25, 1986, Dec.12, 1986.
39. Eastern Air Lines Inc., 1968, Ann. Report.
40. J. O’NeillDallas, Tex., Feb.28, 1991.
41. M. HopperDallas, Tex., Aug.1, 1990, Aug.7, 1986, Nov.21, 1991.
42. United Air Lines Inc., 1965,Ann. Report.
43. TransWorld Airlines Inc., 1965, Ann. Report.
44. J. SchafersMiami, Fla., Dec.12, 1986.
45. H. WilliamsMiami, Fla., Dec.12, 1986.
46. D.E. Lundstrom, A Few Good Men from Univac, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1987.
47. W. O’BrianMonroe, Conn., July15, 1986.
48. TransWorld Airlines Inc., 1958, Ann. Report.
49. TransWorld Airlines Inc., 1964, Ann. Report.
50. United Air Lines Inc., 1958, Ann. Report.
51. United Air Lines Inc., 1959, Ann. Report.
52. United Air Lines Inc., 1960, Ann. Report.
53. United Air Lines Inc., 1961, Ann. Report.
54. United Air Lines Inc., 1964, Ann. Report.
55. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Oct.23, 1972.
56. TransWorld Airlines Inc., 1970, Ann. Report.
57. United Air Lines Inc., 1971, Ann. Report.
58. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Oct.26, 1970.
59. W. BardHouston, Tex., July7, 1986.
60. “Sabre—Electronic Airlines Reservation System,” Systems, June 1967.
61. American Airlines, 1969, Ann. Report.
62. R.J. Serling, Eagle: The Story of American Airlines, St. Martin’s Press, New York 1985.
63. “The American Airlines Sabre System: A Profile,” American Airlines Internal Document, Jan. 1983.
64. R.E. MurrayHouston, Tex., Aug.2, 1990.
65. R. CrandallDallas, Tex., Feb.28, 1992.
66. J. GoodletHouston, Tex., July7, 1986.
67. Northwest Airlines Inc., 1959,Ann. Report.
68. Northwest Airlines Inc., 1961,Ann. Report.
69. Northwest Airlines Inc., 1964,Ann. Report.
70. Northwest Airlines Inc., 1970,Ann. Report.
71. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Oct.22, 1973.
72. K. Labich, “Bob Crandall Soars by Flying Solo,” Fortune, Sept.29, 1986, pp. 118-124.
73. A.B. CaseyDallas, Tex., Feb.8, 1991.
74. American Airlines Inc., 1976,Ann. Report.
75. D. SohnCambridge, Mass., Oct.1, 1986.
76. T. Celentino letter to author, June9, 1987.
77. American Airlines Inc., 1982, Ann. Report.
78. US Civil Aeronautics Board, Report to Congress on Airline Computer Reservations Systems, Docket 41207, 1983.
79. Aviation Week&Space Tech., May13, 1968.
80. American Airlines Inc., press release, Aug.23, 1976.
81. United Airlines Inc., press release, July7, 1975.
82. P. BlackneyChicago, Ill., Aug.25, 1986.
83. T.J. Ross Jr. American Airlines Bulletin, Nov.19, 1975.
84. American Airlines Inc., “American Airlines’Automated Approach for Travel Agencies and Commercial Accounts,” internal document, Oct.31, 1975.
85. American Airlines Inc., press release, Jan.28, 1976.
86. E. Gehrlein letter to author, June22, 1987.
87. US District Court, Central District of Calif., United Airlines document UA001374, Jan. 1986.
88. S. Morrison and C. Winston, The Economic Effects of Airline Deregulation,Brookings, Washington, D.C., 1986.
89. “UAL Res Sets Will Not be Biased,” The Travel Agent, Feb.5, 1976.
90. US District Court, “Minutes of Industry Task Force Meeting RE: Joint Reservations Systems,” Continental Airlines v.United Air Lines,Case#CV86-0696 and 0697 ER(MCX), Exhibit 19281, Jan. 1986.
91. “United Offers Agency Automation; American and TWA Reluctantly Follow Suit,” Travel Management Daily, Jan.29, 1976.
92. “American Airlines, TWA to Offer Travel Agents Automated System,” The Wall Street J., Feb.2, 1976.
93. US District Court, Central District of Calif.,“Memorandum from T.G. Plaskett to A.V. Casey,” American Airlines documents AA080713-AA080714, Jan.17, 1977.
94. R. LeeInglewood, Colo., Aug.14, 1986.
95. T. SchwartzInglewood, Colo., Aug.14, 1986.
96. US Department of Justice, Civil Investigation Division, Deposition of R.E. Murray, Civil Investigation Division Demand No. 5087, June1, 1983.
97. K. Misunas telephone interview, Mar.11, 1992.
98. US District Court, Central District of Calif., Appropriation Request, AR 901-566-5-8, American Airlines document AA072613, Jan. 1986.
99. US District Court, Central District of Calif., Continental Air Lines document CH032910, Jan. 1986.
100. US District Court, Central District of Calif., American Airlines document AA080717, Jan. 1986.
101. US District Court, Central District of Calif., “Sabre Pro Forma,” American Airlines document AA035416, Jan. 1986.
102. US District Court, Central District of Calif., American Airlines document AA083100, Jan. 1986.
103. US House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Aviation Hearings, statement of R. Crandall, June23, 1983.
104. American Airlines Inc., 1978, Ann. Report.
105. C. RaderAtlanta, Ga., June4, 1987.
106. M.E. Levine, “Airline Competition in Deregulated Markets: Theory, Firm Strategy, and Public Policy,” Yale J. of Regulation, 4, 1987.
107. A.E. Kahn, “Surprises of Deregulation,” AEA Papers and Proc., 1988.
108. D. Saunders, “The Antitrust Implication of Computer Reservations Systems (CRS’s),” J. of Air Law and Commerce, 51, 1985.
109. Continental Air Lines Inc., 1978,Ann. Report.
110. American Airlines Inc., press release, Jan.17, 1979.
111. F. Haecker, “Service to Travel/Cargo Agents,” presentation to the IATA Data Processing Subcommittee, Apr. 1982.
112. US District Court, Central District of Calif., American Airlines document AA072616, Jan. 1986.
113. US District Court, Central District of Calif., American Airlines document AA304085, Jan. 1986.
114. American Airlines Inc., 1983, Ann. Report.
115. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Nov.28, 1983.
116. United Airlines Inc., 1982, Ann. Report.
117. US Department of Transportation, Study of Airline Computer Reservation Systems, DOT-P-37-88-2, May 1988.
118. Aviation Week&Space Tech., May31, 1982.
119. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Jan.1, 1983.
120. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Aug.15, 1983.
121. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Feb.27, 1984.
122. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Aug.6, 1984.
123. US District Court, Central District of Calif., “Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief,Plaintiffsv.American Airlines Inc. and United Air Lines Inc.,” Docket 43605, Exhibit NW-RT-739, Jan. 1986.
124. Aviation Week&Space Tech., Dec.10, 1984.
125. US District Court, Central District of Calif., “Supplemental and Amended Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief,Plaintiffsv.American Airlines Inc. and United Air Lines Inc.,” Docket 43605, VC No. 84-8918 ER, Jan. 1986.
126. W.J. Duffy, “Analysis of American’s and United’s Statements Regarding the Profitability of Sabre and Apollo,” consulting report, Simat, Helliesen&Eichner, 1985.
127. US General Accounting Office, “Airline Competition: Impact of Computerized Reservations Systems,” Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division, B-223042, May 1986.
128. A.E. Kahn, “Statement on Computerized Reservation Systems,” Mar.19, 1985.
16 ms
(Ver 2.0)

Marketing Automation Platform Marketing Automation Tool