Robert Limbaugh

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Robert Limbaugh
Bob Limbaugh 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 Tom Wright

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

As Robert Stone Limbaugh begins each new enterprise, the beat may be so faint we mere mortals rarely hear a thing. The frequencies Bob is tuned to are likely too high, possibly too low. But we would do well to join the parade and keep step as best we can until we too sense the beat. Startled are those who never hear. Foolish are those who refuse to listen. But those who do will be at least entertained and enlightened, very possibly enriched.

If you are left-handed and have a degree in electrical engineering, email, do not fax, your resume to Bob Limbaugh immediately. As we all know, left-handed, double-Es are the most desirable, brilliant, and capable employees—with the most promise.

Bob hails from Birmingham, Alabama, born 13 November 1937. Despite all medieval attempts to correct it, he is left-handed. He has a degree in electrical engineering from Auburn, did graduate work at the University of Alabama, and is a member of the Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering honorary fraternity. Yes, he is a rocket scientist. Vector to Alabama’s Army Ballistic Missile Command Redstone Arsenal, circa 1960 and you would find Bob testing rockets and assisting in the development of the first helicopter gunship: the Huey Cobra.

At NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Bob helped build the Saturn V (under Von Braun), developing innovative instrumentation for measuring seismic, vibration, and acoustic responses.

In 1966, he designed the first commercially available, real-time, computer-based data acquisition system. Boeing used these systems to test 737s and 747s. His next assignment was the data acquisition system for NASA’s Lunar Excursion Module (Apollo 13’s lifeboat). When Bob joined Digicon in 1979, his marketing genius emerged. VAX 11-780s and DISCO came to dominate data 0000 THE LEADING EDGE OCTOBER 1999 OCTOBER 1999 THE LEADING EDGE 1199 Downloaded 01/24/14 to 138.67.12.12. Redistribution subject to SEG license or copyright; see Terms of Use at http://library.seg.org/processing as no other systems before or since. Competitors are footnotes. The legacy is today’s Cogniseis. Landmark . . . this was the first time most did not hear the beat. Roice Nelson heard and amplified it. John Mouton and Andy Hildebrand heard it. But competitors slept. “Give up colored pencils? Never!” “PCs are fine for spreadsheets, but a workstation for each interpreter? Impossible!” I still see competitors’ suspension-bridge-sized cables snaking from terminals to hidden computer centers away from SEG’s exposition floor. But Bob sold a promise at SEG’s 1983 meeting—Never before in the history of the world!—and Landmark delivered. The paradigm shifted. MS-DOS-based workstations (costing $240 000) made interpreters 10 times more productive. Site preparation became rolling it up, plugging it in, and turning it on. Bob’s marketing vision dominates to this day. Perhaps his most critical decision was freezing the product so the first Landmark III could be delivered. Marathon/London heard the beat.

A turnaround has to be easier than a start-up. Right! Even Bob can be surprised. Yes, Virginia, turnarounds can be much, much more difficult than start-ups. But people now believed in Bob’s vision. Even if the vulture capitalists did not follow, suppliers did. And Tom Barrow did. So taking two moribund divisions of GeoQuest International, Bob founded GX Technology in 1988. Modeling and depth imaging—the missing links in seismic interpretation—were the vision.

Today, Bob has shifted from exploration to telecommunications. He is president and CEO of Automated Information Management, a 20-year-old telecommunications software, outside-plant design, engineering, and mapping company. AIM applies AutoCAD to telecommunications infrastructure, a business turned on its ear by competition and new technology. Do you hear the beat?