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Docket #:2022-16

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on the edit button in toolbar above, indicated by an icon displaying a pencil on paper. At the bottom of the form, check the box that says "Submit this proposal to the IEEE History Committee for review. Only check this when the proposal is finished" and save the page.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

The World’s First On-Line Real-Time Train Seat Reservation System, 1960

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

MARS-1 (Magnetic-electronic Automatic Reservation System-1) was put into operation by the Japanese National Railways in 1960. The system initially issued tickets for 3,600 seats on four limited express trains operating between Tokyo and Osaka. Having been in use for more than 60 years, continuously upgraded and expanded, this system currently has an operational availability of 99.999% with nearly 700 million tickets issued annually.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

MARS-1 (Magnetic-electronic Automatic Reservation System 1) was the world’s first online real-time train seat reservation system, which was launched by the Japanese National Railways in 1960. Initially, this system issued tickets for 3,600 seats on four limited express trains that operated between Tokyo and Osaka. After that, it has been improved and used for over 60 years, and now has a high reliability with a utilization/operating rate of 99.999%, and the number of tickets issued by MARS reaches nearly 700 million each year. Japan’s population is approximately 130 million people, so each person on average is issued more than 5 tickets a year. This shows that MARS, in coordination with the Shinkansen system which is the main artery of passenger transportation in Japan, has become an indispensable travel system for the Japanese society. The person who contributed most to the development of MARS was Dr. Mamoru Hosaka. Using a Bendix G15 computer, he developed MARS-1 and put it into service with the Japanese National Railways. For his work Dr. Hosaka received the IEEE 2006 Computer Pioneer Award. It is generally recognized that the Train Seat Reservation System MARS greatly contributed to the convenience of travel planning and saved time of millions of travelers and manual labor to JNR industry.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

There are 3 Societies which are closely related to this matter: The Communications Society, the Computer Society, and the Industry Applications Society. There are also 2 Societies related to a certain extent this matter: The Reliability Society and the Society On Social Implications of Technology. There is 1 Council related to this matter: IEEE Systems Council.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Tokyo Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Tokyo Section
Senior Officer Name: Yoshiaki Nakano

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Tokyo Section
Senior Officer Name: Yoshiaki Nakano

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Tokyo Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Yoshiaki Nakano

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Hiroshi Suzuki
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Railway Information Systems Co., Ltd. (JR Systems) 1-47-4 Hikaricho, Kokubunji, Tokyo 185-8510 N35.70377, E139.44465

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. MARS was initially installed at Tokyo Station in 1960. After that, in 1972, operation began in Kokubunji, Tokyo. In 1987, when the Japanese National Railways was privatized, it was taken over by the JR Systems. For this reason, the central system center in Kokubunji, which has the longest operating period, is a place of connection.

Are the original buildings extant?

The original building which was located at the site of current Tokyo Station is not extant. The plaque is to be displayed at JR Systems.

Details of the plaque mounting:

The plaque will be displayed at the exhibition room inside the JR Systems.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The plaque will be displayed in a showcase placed at the entrance hall of the exhibition room, which can be accessible to the public with permission. Replicas of the plaque will be set up at the National Museum of Nature and Science the Railway Museum.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Railway Information Systems Co., LTD. (JR Systems) President Hirotaka Honda

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

The major historical significance of developing 'on-line real-time train seat reservation system’ is summarized in what follows.

1. Historical Background of Developing ' on-line real-time train seat reservation system ' MARS was born in 1960, in order to improve the convenience of passengers by automating ticket reservation and sales work done manually by staff members, in order to respond to the rapidly increasing number of passengers every day.

In early days, MARS was processing 3600 tickets per day. The capacity continued to increase and exceeded 1 million tickets per day in 1991. And in the peak years, it exceeded 1.7 million per day. In 2018, before the Covid-19 pandemic started, it was still processing as many as 1.5 million tickets per day. (Reference 1)

Since then, MARS has continued to evolve for over half a century as Japan's largest online real-time system.

It takes only a few seconds to get trip tickets via MARS reservation. Furthermore, the usage is becoming more diverse and sophisticated, regardless of time or place, such as making reservations directly via the Internet as well as from the terminals of ticket office (called “Midori No Madoguchi”) and travel agencies (about 9,800 units) nationwide. We respond flexibly, faster, and more reliably to the needs of all passengers, and achieve highly stable operation with an operating rate of 99.999%.

2. Historical Achievements of Commercializing online real-time train seat reservation system

After the end of World War II, the Japanese National Railways was established, and rail transportation expanded in line with Japan's reconstruction and economic growth. In 1950, during the reconstruction period, work to automate the seat reservation system for railways had started in Japan. Since train seats were reserved by telephone and data was handwritten into a register in that era, it was very time-consuming work. Also, it was difficult to process a large number of requests at a time or to do flexible seat assignments, and double booking by human errors was likely to occur. (Reference 2)

Dr. Hosaka graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1942 and went to study at MIT in 1952 as a Fulbright Japan Program Scholar in the starting first year of the Program. After returning to Japan in 1953, he developed an idea of seat reservation system using a computer, to solve the problems of the handwritten reservation method. In 1957, the JNR imported Bendix-G15D, a computer made in U.S.A., and started research into techniques required for real-time processing. (Reference 3). After returning to Japan, Mamoru Hosaka earned a doctorate degree from the University of Tokyo in 1958. Dr. Hosaka and his colleagues learned microprogramming techniques using the Bendix G-15D, and based on their development philosophy, they developed the logic design for their new system, MARS-1.

In 1958, JNR concluded a development agreement with Hitachi, Ltd. and started to manufacture, test and improve a train seat reservation system unique to Japan. The system was placed at the Tokyo station in March 1959, and in January 1960, the system started actual reservations. (Fig. 1 MARS-1 1960) Media:Fig1-MARS-1.jpg MARS functions expanded to nationwide reservation and ticketing, and in 1965, reservation of the Tokaido Shinkansen seats was added, contributing significantly to the development of the high-speed train system in Japan.

In 1977, MARS was completed as a consolidated reservation system for passenger travel tickets, and later in 1985, its functions were further improved by integrating systems for airline tickets and rental car reservations. In 1987, JNR was privatized and divided into JR companies, operation of MARS was transferred to JR Systems. In the 21st century, JR Systems still continues to improve the system by introducing advanced information and communications technologies, including connection to the Internet. (Reference 1,4,5,6) (Fig. 2 MARS 2020) Media:Fig-2-MARS-505.jpg

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

In early 1956, large-scale computers did not yet exist; the IBM System 360 mainframe was only released in 1964, eight years later. Hence engineers had to develop solutions to several issues in order to achieve a large-scale, multi-access, real-time seat reservation system.

1. In order to reserve 3,600 individual seats per day 15 days in advance, it was necessary to achieve 0.15 second average processing time at the main-frame computer and a total processing time of 3 seconds or shorter including entry and output. To ensure this quick processing, the system was composed of a transistor static circuit and magnetic drums. (Reference 7,8,9) (Fig. 3 Block diagram of file processer composition) Media:Fig3-Block-diagram.jpg

2. Since reservation requests come from reservation offices placed across the country in real-time, a high level of reliability was required (Reference 7, 8, 9) In order to ensure reliability, the system had to have a fail-safe design with a simple logic circuit. The device was configured using two duplicate simple logic circuits. As a result, even if one system failed, the remaining system could continue operating.

3. Since using public telephone lines provided by the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation for data transfer was banned in Japan in those days, the JNR had to use their private communication systems (railway telephone systems) for data communication to solve this issue. (Reference 9)

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

American Airlines was the first company that introduced electronic systems for transport ticket reservations, in 1953, based on a Magnetronic Reservisor (TMR). Unfortunately, TMR could not meet the complicated requirements necessary for a railway seat reservation, including having a much too small reservation capacity, as detailed below.

Apart from whether they are air tickets or train tickets, the major differences between TMR and MARS-1 are as follows:

A. With MARS-1, customers could choose seats and the system could assign adjacent seats for groups and families. This function required large memory capacity for all seat information and the system had to be able to “understand” the positions of unreserved seats and to properly assign them according to customers’ requirements.

B. TMR only needed to record the total number of seats reserved and did not need to record the reservation status of every individual seat.

C. TMR only needed to have memory capacity for the seats of one flight while MARS-1 required memory to handle four express train lines with multiple trains per day.

D. MARS-1 system could process requests for getting on and off on the way, which was not needed for airline direct flights.

E. MARS-1 had to handle a large amount of traffic in a short period, due to the high concentration of access on certain dates and times. This high concentration was due to access to reservations becoming available at a specific time exactly 15 days before the train boarding date.

F. MARS-1 could deal with requests for reservations of connecting trains’ seats, which again was not feasible with TMR.

As shown above, the Magnetic-electronic Automatic Reservation System 1 had much more advanced capabilities and many more functions as compared with the American Air Line system TMR. Dr. Hosaka and his colleagues learned programming skills using Bendix, but they developed original software as well as original hardware for MARS-1. It proved to have a large reservation capacity and to meet complicated requirements needed for the railway seat reservation in Japan (Reference 9), which would have been not possible with the TMR.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Reference01 (Mars Development History, April 2013, Japan Railway Electrical Engineering Association) The prototype of the seat reservation system summarizing the results was approved as a "technical issue" in 1958, and a development contract was signed with Hitachi, Ltd. At Hitachi, Ltd., Yasuhiko Tani and others worked on the manufacture, testing, and adjustment of each device, and after being installed at Tokyo Station in March 1959 and making on-site adjustments, various tests were conducted from August of the same year. From January 18, 1960, the Tokaido Main Line limited express train and two down trains (two more trains were added from June of the same year) were started to be used.

Reference02 (RRR, 2019 Dec.) The JR Group's seat reservation system MARS is a system developed to automate the reserved-seat ticket reservation and sales work that was manually performed by the staff. Since the first machine was developed in 1960, it has continued to evolve for half a century, and now it is a system that can reserve and sell various travel products such as tickets and reserved tickets from about 10,000 terminals. Here, we will introduce the development process of the seat reservation system MARS and the relationship between the research institute, from the development of the first unit to the present through the division and privatization of the former Japanese National Railways (former Japanese National Railways).

Reference03(IEEE Xplore, 2007 Feb, pp73) Reservation System (MARS-1), placed into service by Japanese National Railways (JNR) in 1960.

Reference04(QUARTERLY REPORTS, Vol. 17, No.2, 1976) JNR continues to expand its seat reservation system MARS since 1960 which has grown large enough to be capable of reserving 1.4 million seats per day.

Reference05(QUARTERLY REPORTS, Vol. 19, No.1, 1978) A small scale tentative machine was devised for reservation of the limited express trains on Tokaido Line in 1959 which named MARS 1.

Reference06(QUARTERLY REPORTS, Vol. 27, No.3, 1986) MARS was introduced in 1960 to replace the manual reservation system.

Reference07(QUARTERLY REPORTS, Vol. 2, No.4, 1961) The present paper deals with the investigations and analysis involved with mechanization of seat reservation system with reference to the practical performance of MARS-1 realized as the result thereof.

Reference08(QUARTERLY REPORTS, Vol. 3, No.2, 1962) The present Report deals with MARS-1, a super-express train seat reservation system, which has been designed on the basis of these discussions, with special emphasis on its practical aspects, particularly on its reliability.

Reference09(Reservation machine, Mamoru Hosaka, Yutaka Ohno, Kyoritsu Shuppan Co., Ltd., 1959) In 1958, the Japanese National Railways prototyped a device with extremely small capacity, although it had all the necessary functions. This device uses a large low-speed magnetic drum as a storage device corresponding to a file in a seat, and is a device that pays special attention to design in order to perform Real Time operation. This design was done by the Railway Technical Research Institute and manufactured by Hitachi. This device was named MARS-1 (Magnetic-electronic Automatic Reservation System) in the sense of the war god (Mars) who took the lead in the Japanese National Railways modernization plan. It was installed at the Tokyo Ticket Center in April 1958.

Reference10(KITA Chigusa,, Specific Area Research "Japan's Technological Innovation-Experience Accumulation and Knowledge Base-" Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium Research Presentation, Dec. 2007) MARS-1 of the Japanese National Railways was the first online real-time seat reservation system in Japan, which was burned in 1959, the running test started, and started operation in January 1960.

Reference011 Phot of System 1960 year. Reference 12 Phot of System 2020 year.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.



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