Evelyn Berezin, Built World’s First Computerized Airline Reservations System for United Airlines, Dies at 93

By Anna Breuer on 12 December 2018
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Evelyn Berezin, who is credited with building the world’s first computerized airline reservations system as well as the first computer-controlled word processor, died Saturday in New York City at the age of 93.

Ms. Berezin joined Electronic Computer Corporation in New York in 1951, where she designed task-specific computers. When Electronic Computer was acquired by Underwood Typewriter, she moved to Teleregister.

In 1959, while at Teleregister, where she designed several bookkeeping and accounting systems, Ms. Berezin created the world’s first airline reservations system, this for United Airlines. The system linked airline offices in 60 cities with customer and seat availability information in a system that provided users with a one-second-response time.

The Teleregister system predated American Airlines’ better-known Sabre system by one year.

In 1969, Ms. Berezin founded her own company, Redactron, with the goal of building a computer-controlled word-processing system.  At that time, IBM owned the word processing market with its Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter, introduced by its Office Products Division in 1964, and the MagCard Selectric typewriter in 1969.

Her company’s Data Secretary word processor was introduced in 1971, and thousands of units were sold.

By the mid-1970s, facing higher interest rates and strong competitors such as Lexitron, Vydec, and Wang, Ms. Berezin sold the company to Burroughs in 1976, which she joined and where she remained until 1980.

Ms. Berezin was born in the Bronx on April 12, 1925, where she grew up, and attended Hunter College and, later, the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University in 1946 and continued there in  a doctoral program in physics but left before completing her doctoral experiments.

In 1951, Ms. Berezin married Israel Wilenitz, a chemical engineer who died in 2003. The couple had no children.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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