Don Robinson

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Don Robinson
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Latest company Resolve Geosciences


Don Robinson represents the epitome for this award because he took personal risk not once, but twice, to create companies that provided valuable products and services to the geophysical industry. The first, Oklahoma Seismic, provided data-copying services and synthetic seismogram software to people who did not have access to high-end computational resources. The use of synthetic seismogram technology expanded significantly in the 1970s and 1980s because of Don’s relentless visits to hundreds of large companies, small companies, consultants, and academics to cause his software to be put into daily practice by many people. Don sold his synthetic seismogram software technology to Landmark. His second company, Resolve Geosciences, extracts and combines numerical attributes of seismic data to increase the geologic information provided by reflection seismic technology.

Biography Citation for the Cecil Green Enterprise Award 2013

Contributed by Heloise Lynn

Don Robinson entered the geophysical industry in Midland, Texas, in 1973 when he went to work for Geo- Search, a new company started by his brother Rodney. Opportunities abound with small companies and Don was introduced to computers. From then on, he concentrated on learning software languages or developing software. Don moved to Austin, Texas, majored in computer science at The University of Texas, and in 1979 moved to Oklahoma City to work in the new offices of Geo-Search. Don loves the technical side of the business especially if it has anything to do with software. Having known Don for nearly 30 years, I can also say he loves the personal side of the business. Don has more business contacts than anyone I know. His business skills and foresight, coupled with his communication skills and sense of humor, have played a large part in his success. He states that he was a great worker but a poor employee. Everyone requesting his opinion received it, although they may have regretted asking. I heard Don say more than once: “I would have fired myself, if I worked for me; and my brother agreed – he fired me regularly.”

It is easy to see the motivation for forming Oklahoma Seismic Corporation in 1980. As Don puts it, “My boss was a genius and always right, although he paid poorly.” Oklahoma Seismic provided synthetic seismogram and modeling services. The interest was great and the services grew fast. In 1981, personal computers began to enter the geophysical industry and explorationists needed to compute their own models and synthetic seismograms. Oklahoma Seismic decided to offer software as well as services.

After visiting about it with a client, John Williams, it became obvious that the project should be jointly developed. In 1982, Williams provided the technical expertise and development skills, Oklahoma Seismic provided the client base and support services. MIRA was developed as a 2D interpretation system and was soon used by companies worldwide. Many workstation hardware and software companies formed during that period. It was a constantly changing environment since few standards were in place and hardware was advancing rapidly. The number of specialized conventions and trade shows grew rapidly and the competition was exceptional. Although there were many aggressive competitors, the industry thrived due to the competition and long-term friendships were built between individuals and companies competing for the same contracts.

Of the original 27 applications that were part of MIRA, only SynTool survived when MIRA was sold to Landmark Graphics in 1993 and Oklahoma Seismic ceased to exist. Although contracted support was dropped in 1994, dedicated users continued to access MIRA and it was rewarding to support their occasional calls for assistance. A few MIRA systems are still operational.

Robinson founded Resolve GeoSciences in 1997 to provide seismic loading and data management services. SeisShow, a quick and easy-to-use 3D SEG Y viewer, was developed by Williams and Robinson to view and apply basic data-loading and cutting services to 3D data. Resolve began offering seismic attribute services in 2006. The sudden explosion of attribute volumes, especially those related to evaluating unconventional resource plays, made it obvious that most interpretation systems were very capable of interpreting multiple surveys but were not as adept at viewing and analyzing an increasing number of attribute volumes for the same survey. This was a good time to take an application such as SeisShow and expand its capabilities to make it much easier to extract horizons through all volume attributes and to encourage explorationists to learn to take advantage of the computed attributes.

Kurt Marfurt, then at the University of Houston, opened Pandora’s box with volume curvature calculations. Marfurt and Satinder Chopra began evangelizing the merits of seismic attributes. Resolve GeoSciences focused on the computation and analysis of seismic attributes, standing on the shoulders of many legends in the industry. Resolve continues to create new attributes for analysis and develop new ways to view and analyze those attributes.