The origin of geoLOGIC systems ltd.

Every superhero needs a compelling “Origin” story.  And for many people in our industry, geoSCOUT is a “superhero”.  I have been with geoLOGIC since July of 1991 and have worked in every aspect of the company (including data entry), so I guess it falls to me to tell of the origin of geoLOGIC systems ltd which led to the creation of geoSCOUT.

When I started, we had 4 data entry staff (one of whom doubled as receptionist), one sales/support guy (that was me!), a contract programmer, and Joe Harris, the visionary who created the company. Over the past 19 years I have been a part of a most amazing group of individuals who have created something truly special – a “made in Calgary” success story being marketed around the world.  One that grew from 7 people in 1991 to over 120 today.

To really understand how geoLOGIC systems ltd. got to where we are today you have to know a bit about our history.

Our founder, Joe W. Harris, was a successful exploration geologist who sold his properties to Consolidated Morrison in the mid 70’s, which formed a core part of the original Morrison Petroleums properties. With the sale, Joe became “semi-retired” and decided to move to Maui, Hawaii.

As part of the sale to Morrison, Joe was obligated to develop a certain number of plays over the next few years for Morrison, so part of what Joe would need to do was set up an office to continue to “do geology” from Hawaii.

Now, packing up for a move is fairly stressful at the best of times, but this was a little more than the average move. Whenever you are relocating to somewhere not on the same landmass that you currently occupy you generally have 2 choices.

  1. Relocate to the new place and buy whatever you need.
  2. Arrange to transport (usually by ship) the furnishings and other items that you want to bring with you.

Joe and his wife chose option 2 and loaded up everything that they were going to send to Hawaii into a container that was then shipped from Calgary to the coast, loaded onto a freighter, and shipped on to Honolulu and then forwarded to Kihei, Maui. It was expected that the shipping would take about a month, which would give them time to tour the islands and get their residence sorted out before everything arrived.  Well, that was the plan, anyway.

Well, that first month went by in no time, and so did a couple more weeks. And then Joe started to get nervous. Expecially when he contacted the shipping agent and discovered that no one knew where his container was.

Remember, this was in the late 70’s. All of Joe’s data was in a series of small file cabinets on thousands of PIX cards where he had carefully noted all of his own formation tops. And Joe’s data was what he would need to generate the plays that he was obligated to produce. And that data was lost. Over 20 years of painstaking work – vanished!

The container showed up a week later. But this event had affected Joe in a way that no one could have predicted. From that moment the problem of keeping a lifetime of work safe from accidental destruction would always be in the back of his mind.

A couple years after arriving in Maui, Joe bought a Timex Sinclair TS1000 Personal Computer, thinking it might be something that would be a little more flexible than his HP calculator (HP-67). Of course, he then needed to learn how to program it, so he took some night classes at the local college and came to the realization that the computer might hold the solution to the problem that had been gnawing away in the back of his mind since the day that he discovered that his shipping container was “lost”. If a person could store all the data from the PIX cards into a computer then the data could be copied onto a tape and you could carry that with you!

Of course, it wasn’t quite that easy, and as Joe started to think about this a bit more, he realized that getting the information into the computer was going to be a problem.  As he started to look at that problem, he realized that making it intuitive for someone to get the data in was also going to be a problem.

At that point he began to see an opportunity. It was 1982, and Joe started geoLOGIC systems ltd.

Over the next couple of years he would hire someone to watch and document how he and other geologists worked so that he could begin to determine how to replicate the then current paper-based processes into a computerized paradigm. From that, workflows were mapped and he hired a programmer to map out a database structure and begin programming data- entry programs that would support the workflows that he had developed.

The first database and programs were really just prototyping (although he did not realize that at the time), and they had bugs and deficiencies (as all software does). The first programmer left, and was replaced by others, and a few years later geoMATE was born.

geoMATE was a multi-user database program designed to store and report a geologist’s interpretive data. Over several years geoMATE evolved through 5 major versions before being replaced by geoSCOUT in 1993.

And down through the years there has been one constant over-riding principle, driven by a lost shipping container,  that is still a core element of geoLOGIC systems ltd.

Protect the interpretive data.


About Sean Udell

Sean does not like to write about himself in the 3rd-person. He’s been with geoLOGIC longer than almost everyone else in the company, and some of the new hires weren’t even a gleam in their parent’s eyes when he started.
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One Response to The origin of geoLOGIC systems ltd.

  1. Pingback: The Tao of New Features (Part 4) | geoLOGIC

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