Harold Hildebrand

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Harold Hildebrand
Andy Hildebrand headshot.png
Latest company Landmark Graphics

SEG is honoring Andy Hildebrand, Bob Limbaugh, John Mouton, and Roice Nelson with the Enterprise Award for founding Landmark Graphics, which revolutionized the manner in which seismic data are interpreted. Roice Nelson was a visionary who built the first interpretation ‘workstation’ out of cardboard and managed to convince others of its potential. John Mouton and Andy Hildebrand provided the scientific and programming expertise that made this vision a reality. Bob Limbaugh sold the dream to clients and venture capitalists alike, providing the financial fuel that got Landmark through the crucial first years.

Biography Citation for the Cecil Green Enterprise Award

Contributed by Terry Smith

Iam delighted to write this citation acknowledging Andy Hildebrand’s Enterprise Award from SEG. Andy has an extraordinary understanding of technology and how to apply it to challenging problems.

Andy obtained his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and joined Exxon Production Research in 1976. At EPR, Andy’s projects included research in multiple suppression, velocity estimation, and optimal linear estimation. He was principal investigator in a project to apply estimation theory to detect failure in the Alaska pipeline, a project critical to the production schedule.

I met Andy in 1978 when he was working at EPR. We had a shared interest in microcomputer technology and collaborated on some early development projects. I was impressed at how focused Andy becomes when working on a problem and how he persists until it is solved. Andy left Exxon in 1980 and cofounded Cyberan Geophysical Corporation with John Mouton. Andy’s first foray into innovative product development was a geophysical workstation for Seiscom Delta United.

In July 1982, Andy and John joined Roice Nelson and Bob Limbaugh to develop the business plan for Landmark Graphics Corporation and proceeded to seek venture capital financing. Their proposal was that a microcomputerbased workstation would allow users to quickly view and interpret huge 3-D seismic data volumes.

Landmark was capitalized in December 1982. I was the first nonfounder employee. Andy headed software development and was the technical architect of the first interactive applications. He also assisted with the data-loading software by designing and programming digital filtering, deconvolution, wavelet extraction, and wavelet substitution software.

In 1987 Andy recognized that the trend toward large software applications was not a viable approach to developing software for geophysical interpretation. He assembled a team to specify and implement a completely new integrated software framework now known as OpenWorks, in which multiple applications share data. Andy managed the team through its first release in 1988.

Andy left Landmark in 1989. He studied composition at Rice’s Shepherd School of Music for a year and, while there, invented a way to create seamlessly looped samples of complex sounds used in electronic synthesizers. With that technology as the basis of the first product, Infinity, Andy founded Antares Audio Technology, and invited me to join him in 1991. Andy has applied his knowledge of seismic digital processing to historically “impossible” problems in the audio industry.

Infinity’s DSP-based sample-looping tools are the overwhelming tools-of-choice of digital sound developers. Thanks to Infinity (which won the Editor’s Choice Award from Electronic Musician’s magazine), electronic musicians have at their disposal libraries of sounds virtually indistinguishable from their conventional acoustic counterparts. Auto-Tune pitch corrects vocal tracks in real time while preserving the expressive nuance of the original performance, thereby saving hours of studio time. It is currently used in 90% of all commercially produced vocal recordings. The ATR-1 hardware version was the Editor’s Pick of Musicianmagazine and is a nominee for the 1999 Technical Excellence and Creativity award for best new hardware signal processing device. AMM-1 (Antares Microphone Modeler) can digitally replace the sonic characteristics of one microphone with those of another, allowing the owner of a single reasonablequality microphone to have at his or her disposal a extensive “virtual” collection of exotic (and expensive!) microphones.

Notwithstanding the time spent inventing and running a business, Andy still finds time for excitement by skiing, backpacking, SCUBAdiving and whitewater kayaking. The breadth of his interests and depth of his knowledge continue to amaze and inspire me. He certainly deserves the Enterprise Award.