- Copyright © 2000 Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Editor's note: In recent years, many geophysicists have commented that the ongoing oil-industry megamergers and downsizings have virtually eliminated “mentoring”—an invaluable tradition by which veteran geophysicists pass along what they have learned to the next generation. During much of the history of exploration geophysics as a profession, this was viewed as a vital part of the geophysicist's postacademic training. In fact, some companies had multiyear training programs before newly hired geophysicists were sent into the field. These programs, along with oil-company research labs, have now vanished and many veteran geophysicists publicly worry that much knowledge will be lost. TLE cannot replace either formal training programs or day-to-day contact that transferred knowledge in the past, but perhaps some of these data can be captured via interviews with eminent midcareer geophysicists. To inaugurate this attempt, TLE's Dolores Proubasta interviewed Thomas A. Smith, president and founder of Seismic Micro-Technology. (As this issue went to print, Tom Smith was named the recipient of SEG's 2000 Enterprise Award.)
How did SMT get started?
We started the company in 1984 as a one-man company. After a year and a half or so it was a two-person company and so on. It grew very slowly at first. The company Seismic Micro-Technology (SMT) was really intended to focus on seismic, of course, because I am a geophysicist by training, but also the micro-technology was there because it was oriented toward microcomputers. At the beginning we had some laughs about “micro” because people, when they first heard the name Seismic Micro-Technology, joked, “Well that means that there's a little bit of technology.” If we need anything in this industry, it's a sense of humor, so we didn't mind.
How we got started? Back in the 1980s we stayed busy three ways. I consulted on geophysical problems for various clients, formed this little company called …