[SIGCIS-Members] petroleum and computers

David Hemmendinger hemmendd at union.edu
Tue Sep 14 08:52:40 PDT 2010

>Recently, I received a question about a claim that the petroleum- 
>seeking geophysics industry was once the greatest consumer of  
>computers, only surpassed at some later point by the federal  
>government.  No citation was given and there is quite a bit of  
>skepticism but where would you advise us to look to refute this claim  
>(or perhaps my own aerospace bias is too strong and the claim is true!).

	I have no opinion, but a google search turned up several items
that might help refute (or confirm) it:

1. The Leading Edge; January 2006; v. 25; no. 1; p. 12-17;
   DOI: 10.1190/1.2164747, 2006 Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Recollections about the advent of digital seismic technology
Al Sabitay, Caversham, Australia
	The google page that brought this up has an intriguing snippet:
   In the late 1960s, I understood that 60% of computer use was 
   associated with the search ...

(Editor's note: The story of the research that led to the digital
revolution in exploration geophysics in the 1960s has been often (and
deservedly) told. Less well known is the story of those who had to
implement the new concepts and equipment in the field. Here, as part of
TLE's series of articles commemorating SEG's 75th Anniversary in 2005,
are some recollections about the early digital field work from a longtime
geophysicist who had a ringside seat during this revolution and is,
coincidentally, 75 years old himself.)

2. Google books:
Deconvolution of geophysical time series in the exploration for oil and 
natural gas, Manuel T. Silvia, Enders A. Robinson:
On p. 27: the petroleum exploration industry uses more magnetic computer
tape than any other group in the world.

3. Enders Robinson was the first head of the MIT Geophysical Analysis Group
(GAG), and developed the deconvolution techniques used in prospecting.
In 1997 the IEEE recorded an oral history:
http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Oral-History:Enders_Robinson .
	If he's available, he might be able to help.

  David Hemmendinger                           hemmendd at union.edu
  Computer Science Dept.        http://athena.union.edu/~hemmendd
  Union College                                   +1 518 388 6319
  Schenectady, NY 12308                      FAX: +1 518 388 6789

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