Now the real job would begin. To get the new Eastern system up and runni ng would require the equivalent of approximately 35 man-years.
Eastern Airlines system configuration is discussed by IBM Data Processing Division employees based at IBM Kingston: left, J. R. Knight, development engineer; L. V. Gribble (at blackboard), staff engineer; and J. S. Grant, manager, Airlines Systems Design Engineering.
The new system will be based on two IBM System/360 Model 65 mainframes and an electronic filing system housed in an IBM 2314 direct access storage facility. The IBM equipment involved is designed to supply faster, more accurate reservation and ticket service to Eastern customers in the United States and Canada, and to ensure that available flight space is used more effectively.
IBM Data Processing Division programmers in White Plains, N.Y., begin the tremendous job of programming IBM's airline reservations and ticketing system sold to Eastern Airlines.
An Eastern Airlines "ground hostess" demonstrates a sample program of the new IBM system at the airline's Philadelphia facility. The device seen here is a new IBM 2260 display station.
In the new system, an Eastern reservation agent receives a telephone request from a customer and, while the caller is on the phone, queries the central System/360 computer for current reservation information. The computer responds instantly, showing the agent's display screen the flight number, classes of service and number of seats available, airport and departure time, arrival airport and time, and flight fares. When the customer has selected a flight, the agent enters it into the computer using one of Eastern's more than 1,600 IBM 2915 airline reservation units. The computer responds to this entry by displaying information pertaining to the selected flights, confirming the reservation and signaling the agent to then enter the passenger's name, telephone number, and how and when the customer wants to receive the ticket. The system automatically checks the completeness, validity and logic of each transaction. If mistakes are made or information omitted, the computer informs the agent and identifies the error or the missing data. Once the agent has entered all of the necessary information and finishes speaking with the customer, the computer indexes the passenger's name and places it into the 2314 direct access storage facility.
In addition to processing reservations and preparing tickets, Eastern's System/360 Model 65s processors will be used to:
Other IBM equipment used in Eastern's system will include the IBM 2361 core storage unit for the Model 65 processors; and the IBM 2703 transmission control unit, forming the connection between telephone and teletype communication lines and the IBM processing equipment. Much of the system's hardware is being manufactured at IBM's plant in Kingston, N.Y. The system's IBM 2203 printer will be produced at the new System Manufacturing Division (SMD) plant in Raleigh, N.C., and the 2314 will be built at SMD's plant in San Jose, California.
In sum, in the very narrow window between May 20 and July 31, 1965, groups of IBMers in three states and multiple organizations came together quickly to design and propose a unique solution for one of the nation's major air carriers -- a solution the airline needed to make it more competitive and successful. As an IBM employee publication put it shortly after Eastern awarded the $14 million project to IBM, the win "illustrates how a promise to a customer by a sales team today fully commits widespread areas of the company, its resources and its reputation, as well as the integrity and dedication of its people."