A computer reservations system (or central reservation system) (CRS) is a computerized system used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to air travel. Originally designed and operated by airlines, CRSes were later extended for the use of travel agencies. Major CRS operations that book and sell tickets for multiple airlines are known as global distribution systems (GDS). Airlines have divested most of their direct holdings to dedicated GDS companies, who make their systems accessible to consumers through Internetgateways. Modern GDSes typically allow users to book hotel rooms and rental cars as well as airline tickets. They also provide access to railway reservations in some markets although these are not always integrated with the main system.
In 1946, American Airlines installed the first automated booking system, the experimental electromechanical Reservisor. A newer machine with temporary storage based on a magnetic drum, the Magnetronic Reservisor, soon followed. This system proved successful, and was soon being used by several airlines, as well as Sheraton Hotels and Goodyear for inventory control. It was seriously hampered by the need for local human operators to do the actual lookups; ticketing agents would have to call a booking office, whose operators would direct a small team operating the Reservisor and then read the results over the telephone. There was no way for agents to directly query the system
In 1953, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) started investigating a computer-based system with remote terminals, testing one design on theUniversity of Toronto's Manchester Mark 1 machine that summer. Though successful, the researchers found that input and output was a major problem. Ferranti Canada became involved in the project and suggested a new system using punched cards and a transistorizedcomputer in place of the unreliable tube-based Mark I. The resulting system, ReserVec, started...
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