In this seris of posts I’m gonna talk about history of Global Distribution Systems – exciting business domain not just fr om business perspective but also because travelling is such a big fun. Another reason why I wanted to put some certain summary of how this industry evolved is because it is important for us as a company too – we used to work with GDS companies as software development service provider. And finally, technologies that evolved around GDS companies were actually vital to evolution of information technolgy overall. Lot’s of devices, software packages and networking approaches that appeared to serve travel reservations industry influenced hardware and software development as well as modern networking very crucially. These days this domain proceeds bringing up revolutionary ideas in IT.

Evidently it started way prior to Internet or any other networks. It started with published paper version of flight schedules and people could then pick up phone and call the ariline. Same way it worked for travel agencies. The fact it was published on paper wasn’t as bad per se. The real bottleneck as it became aparent later on – the reservations were simply written on paper cards by ariline staff and placed in the pile with other ones till its time.

Absolutelly the pace civil aviation was evolving could not let this method survive. There were more and more flihgts and scheduling became more complex and it was just impossible to do things that way. The pioneer in computerizing reservations was American Airlines.

They built Reservisor, a system that let airlines store and then access seat reservations on magnetic drum.


It actually worked fine and the improvement itself was apparent – airline staff could manage reservations way easier, but there was still one problem, it was not connected to any network. Acrtually there was no networks in 1946 when the system was implemented. So the typical usage scenario would be: travel agent or airline user calls airline on phone and then they look it up in Reservisor.

This innovation was followed by another. This time by Air Canada (which at that time was called Trans-Canada Airlines).


It was in 1953 when AIR Canada started working on remote terminals. First they used Mark 1. This computer itself was pretty revolutionary ‘coz it was first time wh ere index registers were used, so it was way easier for software programmers to refer to memory elements (words).


It was a good step forward, but not very good. It became apparent that input and output are not working reliably, the main reason why Mark 1 was used by Air Canada.
To be continued…
Alex Yakima
Paul is a software architect for Luminis Technologies and the author of “Building Modular Cloud Apps With OSGi”. He believes that modularity and the cloud are the two main challenges we have to deal with to bring technology to the next level, and is working on making this possible for mainstream software development. Today he is working on educational software focussed on personalised learning for high school students in the Netherlands. Paul is an active contributor on open source projects such as Amdatu, Apache ACE and Bndtools.