International Symposium on Software Composition

Computer reservation system

Computer reservation systems, or central reservation systems (CRS), are computerized systems used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to air travel, hotels, car rental, or other activities. Originally designed and operated by airlines, CRSs were later extended for use by travel agencies. global distribution systems (GDS) to book and sell tickets for multiple airlines. Most airlines have outsourced their CRSs to GDS companies, which also enable consumer access through Internet gateways. Modern GDSs typically also allow users to book hotel rooms, rental cars, airline tickets as well as other activities and tours. They also provide access to railway reservations and bus reservations in some markets, although these are not always integrated with the main system. These are also used to relay computerized information for users in the hotel industry, making reservation and ensuring that the hotel is not overbooked.

The MARS-1 train ticket reservation system was designed and planned in the 1950s by the Japanese National Railways' R&D Institute, now the Railway Technical Research Institute, with the system eventually being produced by Hitachi in 1958. It was the world's first seat reservation system for trains. The MARS-1 was capable of reserving seat positions, and was controlled by a transistor computer with a central processing unit and a 400,000-bit magnetic drum memory unit to hold seating files. It used many registers, to indicate whether seats in a train were vacant or reserved to accelerate searches of and updates to seat patterns, for communications with terminals, printing reservation notices, and CRT displays.

In 1953, American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith chanced to sit next to R. Blair Smith, a senior IBM sales representative, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. C.R. invited Blair to visit their Reservisor system and look for ways that IBM could improve the system. Blair alerted Thomas Watson Jr. that American was interested in a major collaboration, and a series of low-level studies started. Their idea of an automated airline reservation system (ARS) resulted in a 1959 venture known as the Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment (SABRE), launched the following year. By the time the network was completed in December 1964, it was the largest civil data processing system in the world.

Also in 1976 Videcom international with British Airways, British Caledonian and CCL launched Travicom, the world's first multi-access reservations system (wholly based on Videcom technology), forming a network providing distribution for initially two and subsequently 49 subscribing international airlines (including British Airways, British Caledonian, TWA, Pan American World Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, SAS, Air Canada, KLM, Alitalia, Cathay Pacific and JAL) to thousands of travel agents in the UK. It allowed agents and airlines to communicate via a common distribution language and network, handling 97% of UK airline business trade bookings by 1987. The system went on to be replicated by Videcom in other areas of the world including the Middle East (DMARS), New Zealand, Kuwait (KMARS), Ireland, Caribbean, United States and Hong Kong. Travicom was a trading name for Travel Automation Services Ltd. When BA (who by then owned 100% of Travel Automation Services Ltd) chose to participate in the development of the Galileo system Travicom changed its trading name to Galileo UK and a migration process was put in place to move agencies from Travicom to Galileo.

European airlines also began to invest in the field in the 1980s initially by deploying their own reservation systems in their homeland, propelled by growth in demand for travel as well as technological advances which allowed GDSes to offer ever-increasing services and searching power. In 1987, a consortium led by Air France and West Germany's Lufthansa developed Amadeus, modeled on SystemOne. Amadeus Global Travel Distribution was launched in 1992. In 1990, Delta, Northwest Airlines, and Trans World Airlines formed Worldspan, and in 1993, another consortium (including British Airways, KLM, and United Airlines, among others) formed the competing company Galileo International based on Apollo. Numerous smaller companies such as KIU have also formed, aimed at niche markets not catered for by the four largest networks, including the low-cost carrier segment, and small and medium size domestic and regional airlines.