Thomas Smith

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Thomas Smith
Latest company Geophysical Insights
BSc Geology
MSc Geology
PhD Geophysics
BSc university Iowa State University
MSc university Iowa State University
PhD university University of Houston

Tom Smith was honored with the Enterprise Award for founding Seismic Micro-Technology Inc. (SMT), a firm that offers the Kingdom Suite of software analyses. Since incorporating in 1984, Tom has built SMT into a leading vendor of PC-based 2-D and 3-D seismic interpretation software. His high-quality, lowcost system has particularly aided independents and consultants seeking an economical way to analyze seismic data on their personal computers.

Biography Citation for the Cecil Green Enterprise Award

Contributed by Elwin Peacock

Tom Smith’s development of the Kingdom Suite significantly impacted our profession in at least two important ways: First, bringing an interpreter’s perspective to a complex but inexpensive software package enabled exploration independents and consultants to compete using affordable, state-of-the-art technology. Second, contributing more than 700 Kingdom systems to colleges and universities has allowed our next generation of geophysicists to be trained in practical interpretation. Kingdom is a true entrepreneurial success story—more than 1300 commercial systems are currently in use. Tom, born in Boone, Iowa and raised in Lake Okoboji, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology at Iowa State University. He joined Chevron as a geophysicist and continued his studies at the University of Houston at night school. Milton Dobrin, whose classic text was used in Tom’s only course in geophysics at Iowa State, was teaching at Houston. Tom immediately enrolled in Dobrin’s courses. Fred Hilterman encouraged him to pursue his doctorate and Tom was the second applicant for a PhD in geophysics at the university.

After 10 years of full and part-time study, Tom received his doctorate in 1981. Chevron wanted him to do research in La Habra, but he decided to become a consultant, stay in Houston, and supplement his income by teaching geophysics courses for GeoQuest and OGCI. He had always had it in mind to develop a PC-based interpretation tool but PCs were hard to find, no hard drives were available, and DOS was the only operating system. He started Seismic MicroTechnology in 1984 in a small office. When the industry collapsed in 1986, Tom’s office shifted to a bedroom at his home. Tom’s first programs were written in DOS. When Windows became available in 1994, he and his first staff, Larry Wipperman and Christopher Lewis, converted to the more user-friendly Windows and 3dPAK was born. Chevron bought his first DOS system, helping to validate Kingdom. Tom’s midwestern background taught him that service is the most important part of any product. When you call SMT for help, talented and patient people work with you to solve any problem, no matter how complex or simple. At SMT seminars or user-group meetings, you will see Tom writing down suggestions from clients. The next version of the software will probably include many. You get fast turnaround on good ideas.

Tom’s leadership makes SMT, a debt-free company with approximately 40 employees, an outstanding place to work. He gives people the opportunity to grow, believes work should be fun, has a great sense of humor, is always smiling, and loves to laugh. He is intelligent and understanding. He loves to teach and to share knowledge. The unrestricted grants of Kingdom systems to schools, including training and maintenance, are evidence of this commitment.

Tom’s approach to business is unique in this era of wealth from technology. He is the sole owner of SMT and, thus, can run it as he sees fit, answering only to clients and technological change, and not to stockholders, stockbrokers, or government regulators. Tom’s wife of 30 years and business partner, Evonne, an Iowa farm girl, worked as a clothing designer in Denver before going back to Iowa to marry Tom. She has a keen business sense and probably knows more about SMT’s operations than Tom. She has worked as a bookkeeper, secretary, office manager, and in sales since they started the company. Their son, Kyle, graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School in San Antonio in May and will do graduate work in peridontics. Exploration geophysics will always be a great profession if we continue to attract personable, practical, intelligent people like Tom Smith.