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Home > Archives > Reservations "wheel" at a call center, 1970s.

Reservations "wheel" at a call center, 1970s.

Black and white image showing a female reservation agent using the "wheel" at a call center.

Reservations "wheel" at a call center, 1970s.

In the image above, a reservation agent works at a rotating file system commonly called the "wheel" or "drum." Agents sitting around the "wheel" penciled in a passenger's name on a paper diagram to reserve space, and the compartments were used to organize each date's bookings.

In the May 2008 issue of Amtrak Ink, employee Lenore Slimbock, who started her career at Amtrak in the early 1970s, recalled that “long-distance train tickets were manually written on a book ticket, with the fare calculated by using a railroad tariff book that took some time getting used to, depending on the complexity of the route over the various carriers. Tickets [from New York] to Florida were issued on a three-coupon book, a coupon for each railroad over which the route carried the passenger: Penn Central Railroad; Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad; and Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.”

Photographer: Unknown for Amtrak.