Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) is a computer system for managing the locomotives and rolling stock owned by or operated on a rail system.
TOPS was originally developed between the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP), the Stanford University and IBM as a replacement for paper-base systems for managing rail logistics. A jointly-owned consultancy company, TOPS On-Line Inc., was established in 1960 with the goal of implementing TOPS, as well as selling it to third parties. Development was protracted, requiring around 660 man-years of effort to produce a releasable build. During mid-1968, the first phase of the system was introduced on the SP, and quickly proved its advantages over the traditional methods practiced prior to its availability.In addition to SP, TOPS was widely adopted throughout North America and beyond. While it was at one point in widespread use across many of the United States railroads, the system has been perhaps most prominently used in the United Kingdom. During 1971, the country's nationalised rail operation, British Rail (BR), opted to procure and integrate TOPS into its operations. The acquisition of an existing system rather than develop an indigenous programme was reasoned to be both cheaper and quicker to implement; it was noted, however, that TOPS was not capable of performing all desired functions. Since its implementation during the mid 1970s, both BR and its successors have continued to operate the system. SP itself has developed a newer system called the Terminal Information Processing System (TIPS), which replaced TOPS entirely during 1980.
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