BEACON Transaction Processing System - a design ahead of its time?

Speaker: Michael Knight
Date: 21st February 2008
Time: 14.30 Room open in advance (from 14.00) – meet up with society members.
Location: Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD

A view of the central reservations hall at West London Air Terminal, Cromwell Road, showing the agent set terminals.

About the talk

Europe’s first large-scale call centre system commenced 24/7, high-reliability service in London in 1965, for British European Airways. This talk describes the task, and the resources (hardware, software, people and time) deployed to implement this multi-phase system.  This early Transaction Processing application was developed in London.
It then describes the design insights and principles which enabled remarkable TP processing capacity and reliability to be achieved on, with hindsight, ludicrously limited hardware capability. Some of those principles became normal a decade or two later; others became superfluous as the technology rapidly evolved.

The talk will be followed by discussion on the topics raised.

Speaker           Michael Knight

Michael Knight, armed with a History degree, began an IT career as a trainee programmer with Emidec in 1961, and soon moved to Univac. Later appointments included 14 years with ICL, where he moved through product planning to international product marketing. His last ‘economically active’ years were concerned with financial markets information systems and services.


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