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Encyclopedia > Sabre (computer system)
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Sabre is a computer reservations system/global distribution system (GDS) used by airlines, railways, hotels, travel agents and other travel companies. Sabre GDS is a unit of Sabre Holdings' Sabre Travel Network division. Current North American hosted carriers include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Cape Air Nantucket Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Mesa Airlines, and Midwest Airlines. Its current IATA code is 1S. However some internal areas are still under 1W. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... A computer reservations system, or CRS, is a computerized system used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to travel. ... An Airbus A380 of Emirates Airline An airline provides air transport services for passengers or freight. ... Dariush Grand Hotel,Kish island, Iran The 4-star Manor House Hotel at Castle Combe, Wiltshire, England. ... A travel agency is a store where individuals or families go to buy travel packages. ... Sabre Holdings (or Sabre Inc) (NYSE: TSG) is an S&P 500 company, encompassing several brands in three global travel distribution channels: travel agency, airline, and direct to consumer. ... Sabre Travel Network (STN) is the line of technology developed by Sabre Inc. ...



The system was developed in order to help American Airlines, who were facing a serious problem by the 1950s. Their system for booking flights was entirely manual, having developed from the techniques originally developed at their Little Rock, Arkansas reservations center in the 1920s. Their system used a rotating file with cards for every flight, which a team of eight operators would sort through. If a seat was booked they would place a mark on the side of the card, and knew visually whether it was full. This part of the process was not all that slow, at least when there weren't that many planes, but the entire end-to-end task of looking for a flight, reserving a seat and then writing up the ticket could take up to three hours in some cases, and 90 minutes on average. The system also had limited room for growth. It was limited to about eight operators because that was the maximum that could fit around the file, so in order to handle more queries the only solution was to add more layers of hierarchy to filter down requests into batches. American Airlines (AA) is the largest airline in the world in terms of total passengers-miles transported[1] and fleet size, and the second-largest airline in the world (behind Air France-KLM) in terms of total operating revenues. ... Coordinates: Country United States State Arkansas County Pulaski Founded 1821 Incorporated 1831 Government  - Mayor Mark Stodola Area  - City  116. ...

AA had already attacked the problem to some degree, and was in the process of introducing their new Magnetronic Reservisor in 1952 to replace the card files. This consisted of a single magnetic drum, each memory location holding the number of seats left on a particular flight. Using this system a large number of operators could look up information at the same time so the ticket agents could be told over the phone whether a seat was available. On the downside a staff member was still needed at each end of the phone line, and actually handling the ticket still took considerable effort and filing. Something much more highly automated was needed if AA was going to enter the jet age, booking many times more seats. The Magnetic Drum was invented by G. Taushek in 1932 in Austria. ... The jet age is a common description of an historical period beginning with the introduction of airliners powered by turbojets and turbofans for scheduled passenger service. ...

It was during the testing phase of the Reservisor that a high-ranking IBM salesman, Blair Smith, was flying on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles back to IBM in New York in 1953. He found himself sitting next to AA president C. R. Smith. Noting that they shared a family name, they began talking. International Business Machines Corporation (known as IBM or Big Blue; NYSE: IBM) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. ... American Airlines (AA) is the largest airline in the world in terms of total passengers-miles transported[1] and fleet size, and the second-largest airline in the world (behind Air France-KLM) in terms of total operating revenues. ... Flag Seal Nickname: City of Angels Location Location within Los Angeles County in the state of California Coordinates , Government State County California Los Angeles County Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) Geographical characteristics Area     City 1,290. ... NY redirects here. ... 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... Cyrus Rowlett Smith Cyrus Rowlett Smith (September 9, 1899 – April 4, 1990), known throughout his life as C. R. Smith, was the CEO of American Airlines from 1934 to 1968 and from 1973 to 1974. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...

Just prior to this chance meeting, IBM had been working with the US Air Force on their Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) project. SAGE used a series of large computers to coordinate the message flow from radar sites to interceptors, dramatically reducing the time needed to direct an attack on an incoming bomber. The system used teletype machines located all around the world to feed information into the system, which then send orders back out to teletypes located at the fighter bases. It was one of the first online systems. International Business Machines Corporation (known as IBM or Big Blue; NYSE: IBM) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. ... Seal of the Air Force. ... SAGE Sector Control Room. ... This long range radar antenna, known as ALTAIR, is used to detect and track space objects in conjunction with ABM testing at the Ronald Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein atoll. ... Look up interceptor in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A teleprinter (teletypewriter, teletype or TTY) is a now largely obsolete electro-mechanical typewriter which can be used to communicate typed messages from point to point through a simple electrical communications channel, often just a pair of wires. ... Online means being connected to the Internet or another similar electronic network, like a bulletin board system. ...

It was not lost on either that the basic idea of the SAGE system was perfectly suited to AA's booking needs. Teletypes would be placed at AA's ticketing offices to send in requests and receive responses directly, without the need for anyone on the other end of the phone. The number of available seats on the aircraft could be tracked automatically, and if a seat was available the ticket agent could be notified instantly. Booking simply took one more command, updating the availability and even printing out the ticket for them.

Only 30 days later IBM sent a research proposal to AA, suggesting that they really study the problem and see if an "electronic brain" could actually help. They set up a team consisting of IBM engineers and a large number of AA's staff, taken from booking, reservations and ticket sales, calling the effort the Semi-Automated Business Research Environment, or SABRE.

A formal development arrangement was signed in 1957, and the first experimental system went online in 1960, based on two IBM 7090 mainframes in a new data center located in Briarcliff Manor, New York. The system was a success. Up until this point it had cost the astonishing sum of $40 million to develop and install (about $350 million in 2000 dollars). The system took over all booking functions in 1964, at which point the name had changed to the more familiar SABRE. In 1972 the system was moved to IBM System/360 systems in a new underground location in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... IBM 7090 console The IBM 7090 was a second-generation transistorized version of the earlier IBM 709 vacuum tube mainframe computers and was designed for large-scale scientific and technological applications. The 7090 was the third member of the IBM 700/7000 series scientific computers. ... Briarcliff Manor is a village in Westchester County in the state of New York. ... System/360 Model 65 operators console, with register value lamps and toggle switches (middle of picture) and emergency pull switch (upper right). ... Nickname: Oil Capital of the World, Americas Most Beautiful City Location in the state of Oklahoma Coordinates: Country United States State Oklahoma Counties Tulsa, Osage, Wagoner, Rogers  - Mayor Kathy Taylor (D) Area    - City 483. ...

Originally used only by AA, the system was expanded to travel agents in 1976. It is currently used by a large number of companies, including Eurostar and SNCF. Today the system connects more than 30,000 travel agents and 3 million consumers with more than 400 airlines, 50 car-rental companies, 35,000 hotels and dozens of railways, tour companies, ferries and cruise lines. 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... A Eurostar on the CTRL going through the Medway Towns Eurostar is a train service with Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille and Brussels (Brussel Zuid station). ... An SNCF multiple unit. ...

With SABRE up and running, IBM offered its expertise to other airlines, and soon developed Deltamatic for Delta Air Lines on the IBM 7074, and PANAMAC for Pan American World Airways using an IBM 7080. In 1968 they generalized their work into the PARS system , which ran on any member of the IBM System/360 family and thus could support any sized airline. This evolved into ACP (Airlines Control Program), and later to TPF (Transaction Processing Facility). Delta Air Lines, Inc. ... Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal international airline of the United States from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991. ... The IBM 7080 was a transistorized variable word length BCD computer in the IBM 700/7000 series commercial architecture line, introduced in August 1961, that provided an upgrade path from the vacuum tube IBM 705 computer. ... PARS (Programmable Airline Reservation System) is an IBM proprietary large scale airline reservation application, executing under the control of IBMs ACP (and later its successor, TPF). ... System/360 Model 65 operators console, with register value lamps and toggle switches (middle of picture) and emergency pull switch (upper right). ... Airlines Control Program, or ACP, was the operating system developed by IBM in 1969 for processing airline reservations and related data. ... For other meanings of TPF, see TPF (disambiguation). ...

American spun off Sabre on March 15, 2000. Sabre was publicly traded corporation, Sabre Holdings, stock symbol TSG on the NYSE until taken private in March 2007. The corporation introduced the new logo (pictured above) and changed from the all-caps acronym "SABRE" to the upper and lower case "Sabre" when the new corporation was formed. The Travelocity website is owned by this company and serves as a consumer interface to the system. Sabre Holdings (or Sabre Inc) (NYSE: TSG) is an S&P 500 company, encompassing several brands in three global travel distribution channels: travel agency, airline, and direct to consumer. ... TSG might be an acronym or abbreviation for: Technical Support Group The SCO Group Protected Designation of Origin This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... New York Stock Exchange (June 2003) The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is one of the largest stock exchanges in the world. ... Travelocity is an online travel agency operated by Travelocity. ...


In 1981 a study[1] by American Airlines found that travel agents selected the flight appearing on the first line more than half the time. 92 percent of the time, the selected flight was on the first screen. This provided a huge incentive for American to manipulate their ranking formula, or even corrupt the search algorithm outright, to favor American flights. American eventually did just that under the name "screen science."

At first this was limited to juggling the relative importance of factors such as the length of the flight, how close the actual departure time was to the desired time, and whether the flight had a connection. But with each success American became bolder. In late 1981, New York Air added a flight from La Guardia to Detroit, challenging American in an important market. Before long the new flights suddenly started appearing at the bottom of the screen.[2] Its reservations dried up, and it was forced to cut back from eight Detroit flights a day to none. New York Air was a 1980s startup airline owned by Texas Air Corporation and based at LaGuardia Airport in New York. ... Fiorello Henry LaGuardia Fiorello Henry LaGuardia (born Fiorello Enrico LaGuardia December 11, 1882–September 20, 1947) was the Republican Mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945. ... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor...

On one occasion, Sabre deliberately withheld Continental's discount fares on 49 routes where American competed.[3] A Sabre staffer had been directed to work on a program that would automatically suppress any discount fares loaded into the computer system. Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) is an American certificated air carrier. ...

Congress investigated these practices and in 1983 Bob Crandall, president of American, was the most vocal supporter of the systems. "The preferential display of our flights, and the corresponding increase in our market share, is the competitive raison d'ĂȘtre for having created the system in the first place," he told them. Unimpressed, in 1984 the United States government outlawed screen bias. Robert Lloyd Bob Crandall (born December 6, 1935) is the former president and chairman of American Airlines. ...

Even after biases were eliminated, travel agents using the system leased and serviced by American were significantly more likely to choose American over other airlines. The same was true of United and its Apollo system.[citation needed] The airlines referred to this phenomenon as the "halo" effect. Apollo Reservation System was developed by United Airlines in 1976 as their reservation system. ...

The fairness rules were eliminated/allowed to expire in 2004. The original notice of rule making is availiable from the US Department of Transportation at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/CRSrule.htm, and a pdf of the final rule is at http://www.travelweekly.com/specialreports/GDSrule.pdf/.


  1. ^ "November Line of Sale Analysis," memo to R. E. Murray from S. D. Nason, American Airlines, Dec. 3, 1981.
  2. ^ "Motion of the Justice Department for an Extension of Time," in "Re Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Airline Computer Reservations System," Docket 41686, Civil Aeronautics Board, Oct. 5, 1983
  3. ^ Memo from J.L. Ott to L. A. Iovinelli et al., "Subject: Continental Fares," American Airlines, Dec. 1, 1981.


  • The meeting of the Smiths on the AA flight may not have actually happened. However, almost all histories mention it as fact.
  • The official corporate history of American Airlines, Eagle, by Robert Serling published in 1985 by St. Martin's/Marek recounts the story of the meeting on page 347 and indicates it was between C.R. Smith and IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. It also explains the acronym as "Semi-Automated Business Reservations Environment".
  • Different sources disagree on many of the dates. Some place the project starting in 1953, some 1957, some place the original system in Manhattan, others Briarcliff. For instance this CNN story places the start date in 1960 and the cost at $150 million. The Serling book uses November 5, 1959 as the date of the announcement of the joint development and 1962 as the date of the first SABRE reservation taken at the Hartford Reservations office.
  • After the name of the system was changed to Sabre, AA's official definition of the acronym was "Semi-Automated Business Research Environment".
  • Sabre (as with other Global Distribution Systems, such as Amadeus, Galileo, and Worldspan) facilitates the sale of seats under airline codeshare agreements.

Thomas Watson, pictured in 1917 Thomas John Watson, Sr. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Backronym and Apronym (Discuss) Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, such as NATO, laser, and ABC, written as the initial letter or letters of words, and pronounced on the basis of this abbreviated written form. ... The Amadeus Global Travel Distribution System is an electronic reservation system. ... The Galileo Central Reservations System is one of the main computer reservation systems designed for the travel industry by a consortium of airlines. ... Worldspan is a technology company that specializes in travel related software and systems. ... Code sharing is a business term used in the airline industry for a procedure whereby one airline operates a service using its own flight number, e. ...

See also

ERMA, for Electronic Recording Machine-Accounting, was a pioneering computer development project run at SRI under contract to Bank of America in order to automate banking bookkeeping. ... Apollo Reservation System was developed by United Airlines in 1976 as their reservation system. ... United Airlines, also known as United Air Lines, Inc. ... A real-time operating system (RTOS) is a class of operating system intended for real-time applications. ... Travel Technology is a term used to describe applications of Information Technology (IT), or Information and Communications Technology (ICT), in travel, tourism and hospitality industry. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Sabre Engines Ltd. - About the company (1058 words)
Sabre was founded in 1968 by John Freeman, a successful businessman and experienced boatowner.
Sabre’s management determined that a definite shift of direction was necessary if the company was to continue as a significant force in the marine diesel engine industry into the next century.
Sabre is now the sole Perkins Marine Power Centre for England, Wales and Ireland, with responsibility for the sales, service and parts support for all Perkins marine engines in the territory.
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