IEEE Geoscience & Remote Sensing Society History

Brief Timeline

  • February 15, 1962 - First meeting of the IRE Professional Group on Geoscience Electronics
  • April 19, 1963 - Name change to IEEE Professional Technical Group on Geoscience Electronics
  • August 27, 1964 - Name change to IEEE Group on Geoscience Electronics
  • 1978 - Name change to Geoscience Electronics Society
  • January, 1981 - Name change to Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society

Early History: The IEEE Geoscience Electronics Group (G-GE)

Formation of G-GE

Robert W. Olson, Founder and First, Chairman, G-GE

The IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society is a descendant of the IEEE Professional Technical Group on Geoscience Electronics which was formed in 1961 as the 29th technical group in the former Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE). The idea of forming such a group originated from a breakfast meeting of twenty interested people convened by Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, then President of both the IRE and the AGU, and Mr. Robert W. Olson, Vice President of Texas Instruments . This meeting was held on April 20, 1961 at the Southwest IRE Conference in Dallas and resulted in a petition to the IRE Board of Directors to form a Professional Group on Geoscience Electronics . This petition was approved by the IRE on November 15, 1961.

Much of the interest in this organization came from engineers and scientists in the Southwestern United States, primarily those involved in the petroleum industry. Although the early interest was mainly in electro-seismic instrumentation, signal processing and seismic modeling, the Group on Geoscience Electronics early charter included a much broader range of geophysical and geoscientific topics. The G-GE organized sessions on geoscience electronics topics for the annual Southwest IRE Conference (SWIRECO), beginning in 1962. Sessions and papers were also organized for other meeting including the International IEEE Convention in New York City. These sessions continued until the late 1960s.

Although the first papers presented and published under sponsorship of this society were primarily motivated by electronic instrumentation for petroleum exploration, a concerted effort was begun in 1962 to broaden the scope, particularly by involving oceanographers and others interested in undersea technology and instrumentation.

First AdCom

Robert Olson called for a meeting to be held February 15, 1962 in Dallas, the main purpose of which was to organize an Administrative Committee (AdCom) for the Group. There were twenty-one people in attendance at that meeting, and an AdCom of nine members were elected: Robert W. Olson and Bernard H. List of Dallas; Marian A. Arthur, Sidney Kaufman and Frank C. Smith of Houston; W. Theodore Girn and Robert A. Broding of Tulsa; W. Harold Mayne of San Antonio; and Harold W. Smith of Austin (footnote 2). The purpose of the AdCom was to provide management of the Group, including financial planning, membership recruitment, oversight of the Transactions and selection of its Editor, setting of technical directions, etc.

The first G-GE AdCom meeting was held on April 13, 1962 at the SWIRECO meeting in Houston. This meeting resulted in the election of Robert W. Olson as the first G-GE AdCom Chairman, and additional AdCom members were added: Ben S. Melton, A. H. Waynich and Jean Lebel. A draft Constitution and Bylaws were discussed and procedures were adopted for mail ballot approval of the final documents. These documents were officially approved by the IRE Executive Committee on October 16, 1962 (footnote 2).

A second AdCom meeting was held at the SWIRECO in Dallas on October 1, 1962 and was primarily concerned with future activities, a first Group budget, etc. Bob Olson was succeeded by Professor Harold W. Smith, who was and still is with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. The Vice-Chairman in 1962 was A. E. Tilley and the Secretary-Treasurer was Edwin B. Neitzel, who was Texas Instruments Inc. in North Dallas and was Manager of their Engineering for Science Services. Other members of the 1963 AdCom included R. A. Broding, T. Cantwell, W. E. Gordon, Isadore “Is” Katz , S. Kaufman, Jean D. Lebel, Bernard H. List, C. Gordon Little, Ben S. Melton, Robert W. Olson, F. C. Smith Jr., G. H. Sutton and A. H. Waynich. The Editor of the G-GE Transactions was A. W. Trorey, who was with the California Research Corporation (La Habra). The News Editor was Edwin B. Neitzel. A copy of the 1964 IEEE Transactions on Geoscience Electronics could be purchased for $2.25 and the annual member subscription price was $12.75.

Chapter III lists the officers and members of the G-GE AdCom along with the Transactions Editors and Associate Editors, and the Newsletter Editors. The table below identifies the officers and editors of the Geoscience and Electronics Group from 1961 - 1979.

(Year)/ Chairman President/ Vice-Chm./ Secr.-Treasurer/ Transactions Editor/ Newsletter Editor/ Symposium Chairman

(1962)/ R. W. Olson/ H. W. Smith/ none/ E. B. Neitzel/ no symposium

(1963)/ H. W. Smith/ A. E. Tilley/ E. B. Neitzel/ A. W. Trorey/ E. B. Neitzel/ no symposium

(1964)/ A. E. Tilley/ B. S. Melton/ E. B. Neitzel/ A. W. Trorey/ E. B. Neitzel/ no symposium

(1965)/ I. Katz/ B. S. Melton/ E. B. Neitzel/ A. W. Trorey/ E. B. Neitzel/ no symposium

(1966)/ W. A. Drews/ E. B. Neitzel/ R. R. Ross/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ T. J. Hickley/ no symposium

(1967)/ W. A. Drews/ E. A. Wolff/ R. R. Ross/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ T. J. Hickley/ no symposium

(1968)/ E. A. Wolff/ M. E. Ringenbach/ R. R. Ross/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ M. T. Miyasaki/ no symposium

(1969)/ E. A. Wolff/ H. S. Field/ J. C. Redmond/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ M. T. Miyasaki/ C. F. Getman

(1970)/ H. S. Field/ J. C. Redmond/ J. C. Redmond/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ M. T. Miyasaki/ M. L. Sims

(1971)/ J. C. Redmond/ C. F. Getman/ M. L. Sims/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ M. T. Miyasaki/ R. Bernstein

(1972)/ J. C. Redmond/ C. F. Getman/ M. L. Sims/ S. Riter/ M. T. Miyasaki/ no symposium

(1973)/ C. F. Getman/ M. L. Sims/ J. W. Rouse/ S. Riter/ none/ no symposium

(1974)/ M. L. Sims/ J. W. Rouse Jr./ R. T. Lacoss/ S. Riter/ none/ no symposium

(1975)/ J. W. Rouse Jr/ R. T. Lacoss/ C. D. McGillem/ S. Riter/ J. Eckerman/ no symposium

(1976)/ C. D. McGillem/ J. Eckerman/ J. A. Schell Jr./ H. Kritikos/ J. Eckerman/ no symposium

(1977)/ J. Eckerman/ A. F. Gangi/ open/ H. Kritikos/ J. Eckerman/ no symposium

(1978)/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ H. Kritikos/ H. J. Perlis/ open/ H. Kritikos/ T. Walton/ no symposium

(1979)/ A. A. J. Hoffman/ H. N. Kritikos/ H. J. Perlis/ open/ H. Kritikos/ T. Walton/ no symposium

First Transactions Issues

Alan W. Trorey, First Transactions Editor

In 1963 and 1964 the Group on Geoscience Electronics was comprised mainly of U.S. engineers and scientists who were interested in such solid-earth topics as seismic exploration and recording, electroseismic effects, seismometer designs and enhanced filtering techniques applied to seismic signals. The Transactions on Geoscience Electronics (T-GE), first published in December 1963, was concerned with the publication of both theoretical and applied papers on geoscience-electronics. Papers were sought that did not have a ready outlet in existing geophysical or engineering journals. Paper submissions were few in this new journal, with four papers in volume GE-1 No. 1 and only three papers in volume GE-2 No. 1 (November 1964). Although all the early papers dealt with solid-earth electro-seismic instrumentation, this fledgling Group had much broader goals in mind.

A. W. Trorey was the first Transactions Editor and wrote the first article to be published in volume GE-1 (Dec. 1963) of this new journal. He entitled it “From Geo-Wireless to Geoscience Electronics.” The intent of this article was to define the scope of the G-GE and the publication policy of its Transactions on Geoscience Electronics. Because of its historic value, this article is quoted below in its entirety:

“Once upon a time there existed in the English language the prefix geo- with the literal meaning 'earth' or 'of the earth.' From this prefix we have, quite naturally, such terms as geology, geotectonics, geophysics - or, more generally, 'geoscience.' Logically then, one would expect 'geo-science' to be a 'science of the earth.'

Once upon a time there existed a breed known as 'wireless engineers' (even though wire was not unknown in the devices they created). The electronic vacuum tube turned them (on this continent) into 'electronic engineers' - people who spent much of their time assembling wire and vacuum tubes together in such a way as to permit us all to learn about the virtues of Ovaltine at the twist of a dial.

Associated with these efforts, however, was the early discovery of an ionosphere, a matter of considerable interest to the 'communication engineer.' Furthermore, it was early realized that extraterrestrial (non-geo-) phenomena have considerable influence on the behavior of the ionosphere. Naturally, these matters required investigation - investigation which carried the communications engineer into many of the fields normally studied by the geoscientist. It did not take much of this to create the 'electronic scientist,' at best a vague term embracing, in varying degree, nearly all branches of science, geo, or otherwise.

Meanwhile the geoscientist had suffered similar experiences. Although initially concerned only with truly geo phenomena, it did not take him long to become interested in extraterrestrial phenomena. We have, for example, various theories of the history of the earth which require, among other things, an understanding and knowledge of gravitational forces in the solar system; we have within the earth telluric currents dependent upon extraterrestrial phenomena; we have numerous methods of investigating the earth’s interior which are affected by non-geo phenomena and which often depend upon measurements of extraterrestrial entities. In studying these and other phenomena, the geoscientist (and the geoengineer) have come to depend heavily upon electronic instrumentation for the gathering and processing of geoscientific information.

We find then, both from the point of view of the electronic scientist and the 'geo' scientist, that geo, in modern day parlance, no longer means of the earth but means anywhere, since that which occurs anywhere may have an effect on earth. Furthermore, both groups study, in varying degree, nearly all branches of science.

Logically then, it would seem that any journal entitled TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE ELECTRONICS should solicit and accept for publication any good paper in virtually any area of science, including even biology, zoology, and the behavioral sciences. If such a policy were followed, however, the TRANSACTIONS would not serve a useful purpose. To be of benefit to the scientific and engineering community, papers which already have well-defined outlets available to them in other existing journals should not normally appear in the TRANSACTIONS. Furthermore, papers need to be of mutual interest to both the electronic scientist and the geoscientist. As we have seen, there is a large area of interest common to the two groups. Both are interested in similar natural phenomena and both are involved with electronic instrumentation used in the study of these phenomena.

This, then, defines our publication policy. Even though the boundary of this policy is vague at best, it will be the guide used by the editorial staff in deciding whether or not the subject matter of a paper is suitable for publication in the TRANSACTIONS. The papers in this first issue have been selected by attempting to follow this policy.”

. . . . A. W. Trorey

In addition to this lead-off paper by Editor Trorey, there were four other articles in Volume GE-1 No. 1, December 1963:

(1) “Real-Time Digital Computer Acquisition and Computation of Gravity Data at Sea,” Ralph Bernstein and C. O. Bowin, pp. 2 - 10. Ralph Bernstein was a member of the Marine Systems Department of IBM in Bethesda, Maryland. C. O. Bowin was a Research Associate in Geology on the staff of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

(2) “Characteristics of Magnetic Tapes Used for Seismic Exploration,” by Paul R. Hinrichs, pp. 11 - 16. Dr. Hinrichs was with the General Dynamics Corporation, Fort Worth, Texas.

(3) “Electromagnetic Modeling Studies of Lithospheric Propagation,” Glenn L. Brown and Anthony F. Gangi, pp. 17 - 23. Dr. Brown was manager of the Nuclear Physics Division of the Space-General Corporation, El Monte, California. Dr. Gangi was manager of the Antenna Department of that same company.

(4) “Field Experiments on the Electroseismic Effect,” by R. A. Broding, S. D. Buchanan, and Daniel P. Hearn, pp. 24 - 31. R. A. Broding was the Senior Vice President and Director of R&D with the Century Geophysical Corporation, Tulsa, Oklahoma. S. D.Buchanan was employed by Douglas Aircraft Company, Tulsa. Daniel P. Hearn was employed by the North American Aviation Company, Tulsa.

Editors of the Transactions on Geoscience and Electronics

A. W. Trorey served as Editor of the Transactions for 1963 - 1965, for issues GE-1, GE-2, and GE-3. A new Editor, Alex Hoffman (Texas Christian University - Fort Worth) was named in 1966. Dr. Hoffman was a professor of physics and mathematics at TCU, and a former student of Professor Harold W. Smith, the 1962 Chairman of G-GE. Under Alex Hoffman’s leadership the Transactions on GE expanded to quarterly publications starting in February 1968. He served as Editor of the Transactions on Geoscience Electronics from 1966 - 1972. From 1972 - 1976, the Editor was Stephen Riter. Dr. Riter was with the Department of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. From 1976 - January 1981, the Editor was Harry Kritikos. Professor Haralombos N. Kritikos was with the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

G-GE Expands Scope

Edward A. Wolff, G-GE Chairman 1968, ‘69

In 1967 the first Transactions article dealing with oceanographic under-sea instrumentation was published. By November 1968, the Transactions published a Special Issue on Oceanographic Instrumentation (volume GE-6), guest edited by Gilbert Jaffe. The lead article was entitled “Oceanographic Instrumentation: A Crisis of National Neglect,” by Harvey D. Kushner. This article, quoting from a 1967 speech by then Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey, outlined some of the then-current problems of oceanographic instrumentation and exhorted the Federal Government to provide assistance in the advancement of state-of-the-technology and improvement in the quality of oceanographic instrumentation.

By 1968 the Group on Geoscience and Electronics had thus established a significant technical presence in two fields - geophysics and oceanography. The addition of a third field - meteorology - was soon to follow. This expansion of activities was spearheaded by Edward A. Wolff , the new G-GE AdCom Chairman. In an editorial published in the May 1968 Transactions, Ed Wolff emphasized that the society should not only be concerned with individual geoscientific disciplines, but also their interactions. He wrote:

“Although land, sea, air, and space are convenient categories for compartmentalizing the interests of G-GE, its members are well aware of the fuzziness of the boundaries and the interrelationships between the regions. There is interest in the water under the ground and the ground under the water; in the land-air and sea-air interfaces, their effect upon t he weather and the effect of the weather on the surface; in the use of space platforms for the measurement of the shape of the earth, atmosphere, and the ionosphere; and for the exploration of natural resources on earth. Also, there are the systems used on land and sea to support the airborne and spaceborne instruments.

There is a large diversity in the geoscience disciplines to which members apply their electronic engineering talents, as well as a large commonality of engineering problems associated with the measurement of these phenomena. Many of the problems of data transmission, processing, analysis, and display are shared by systems in the different environments.

G-GE provides a forum for the exchange of information that is more stimulating because of the diversity of the application.”

In this editorial Chairman Wolff clearly foresaw that the Group (and later the Society) would become involved in interdisciplinary geoscientific studies and instrumentation. This certainly proved to be the case. The Society’s Transactions and IGARSS meetings have expanded into vital means of disseminating information to the international community about underlying geoscience and remote sensing instrumentation and data processing issues. This includes such international programs as the Global Change Research Program, NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth, and large-scale remote sensing mission activities in Europe, Japan, etc.

G-GE activities significantly increased in 1969, under Chairman Wolff’s leadership. Annual dues were increased 25% to $5, and the group conducted its first annual International Geoscience Electronics Symposium. G-GE also arranged a session on oceanography at the IEEE International Convention in New York as well as technical sessions at the first Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston that April. The number of Transactions pages planned was increased to 300, and the group presented the first award in its newly adopted awards program. The G-GE AdCom also that year voted for full group participation in the National Telemetering Conference and allocated an initial contribution of $2000 for this purpose.

During the 1970’s, G-GE successfully resisted an IEEE political problem. There was a faction in the IEEE hierarchy that believed that small was bad, at least in terms of membership. G-GE membership had declined to about 1200 by 1975, thus becoming the second or third smallest group in the IEEE. This faction of the IEEE was pushing for a merger of G-GE into the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AES). They did succeed in merging the two Washington chapters, although the jointness was soon forgotten with the preponderance of AES members. However, G-GE itself survived as a separate group, and soon became a more multidisciplinary organization.

Charles F. Getman , Chairman of the GE-AdCom in 1973, published a statement about the Group’s expanding scope in the January 1973 Transactions, excerpted in part below:

“Traditionally the geophysical environment that has concerned the group has included the earth, water, atmosphere, and more recently, space. The interest has been focused on the instrumentation systems needed to understand these environments. By systems we mean all the electronics from the sensors to the data display devices. This includes all the various sub-systems and components without which a complete system could not be synthesized. Included for example are sensors, telemetry, communications, transmitters, receivers, data processing, and data interpretation systems. “The Group normally does not delve deeper into the scientific aspects of the phenomena being studied than is necessary for sensor design and data analysis. The output data are of interest primarily as the product of the instrumentation system. In recent years however the development of automatic interpretation techniques based upon advances in data processing and the theory of detection and pattern recognition have necessitated the better understanding of fundamental environmental phenomena by the systems designer. Consequently, there has been an increased emphasis on contributions and activities which bridge the gap between the scientist and the engineer.”

“The AdCom has been reorganized and revitalized. Membership is up. The Newsletter is back. G-GE is again actively represented on several conference committees. This has been a good year and next year will be even better!

What this means to you is that G-GE is now better able to represent your professional interests. The reorganization of this TRANSACTIONS is a good example. Our new Editor, Harry Kritikos, has assembled several associate editors representing specific interest groups. The areas already identified for emphasis include Radio Meteorology, Solid Earth Geophysics, Marine Geophysics, Extraterrestrial Geophysics, Environmental Monitoring, Computer Processing of Geophysical Data, and Microwave Remote Sensing. A number of special issues are in the works.”

Section V provides a summary of the Transactions on Geoscience Electronics issues from 1963 - 1979, including the names of the Editors, Associate Editors and Guest Editors.

G-GE Sponsors International Symposia in 1969, 1970 and 1971

The First Annual International Geoscience Electronics Symposium, sponsored by the IEEE Geoscience Electronics Group was held from April 16 - 18, 1969 at the Twin Bridges Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C. Arrangements for this symposium were handled by the host Washington G-GE Chapter. The Steering Committee Chairman of this meeting was Charles F. Getman, who was then with the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office in Washington. This meeting turned out to be a great success, with 376 engineers and scientists in attendance. There were 63 papers presented in 13 technical sessions on topics such as earth resources surveys, oceanographic and meteorological remote sensing, earth seismology instrumentation, and environmental pollution. No digest of papers was published for this symposium, but a Special Issue composed of selected papers from this meeting was published in the October 1969 (GE-7) Transactions on Geoscience Electronics. The banquet speaker at this first symposium was Professor Paul S. Bauer. The registration fee for IEEE members was $17.00. Total receipts for the meeting were $6812 expenses were $5423.82, for a net meeting surplus of $1388.18.

The 2nd International Geoscience Electronics Symposium was held April 14 - 17, 1970 in Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Twin Bridges Motel. The General Chairman was Michael L. Sims . There were 70 papers presented in 18 sessions, and a 100-page Digest of papers was published. This successful meeting included an awards banquet on April 16, with the speaker being U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson. In his address, he called for the creation of a World Environment Institute to provide an international, interdisciplinary approach to global environmental problems. As a result of his suggestion, a G-GE team composed of Enrico Mercanti, Mace Miyasaki, and Ed Wolff began a survey of the world’s environmental community and possible implementation arrangements for a World Environment and Resources Council (WERC). In 1971 the G-GE obtained support from the IEEE Technical Activities Board and TAB Vice-President Harold Chestnut to hold a first exploratory meeting from the world environmental community to form the WERC. This meeting was held in Washington, D.C. on August 26-27, 1971 at the time of the IEEE G-GE 1971 Annual Symposium.

The 3rd International Geoscience Electronics Symposium was also held in Washington, August 25 - 27, 1971. The General Chairman was Ralph Bernstein, with the IBM Corporation. There were 47 papers published in a 78-page Digest (Call No. QE-1.I73). Unfortunately, attendance at this third meeting was only about 150, much lower than the previous two years, and substantially less than was needed for the meeting to be a financial success.

G-GE Chapters

The first Chapter of the G-GE was formed in Houston, Texas with approval on December 11, 1962. The Chairman of that chapter was L. B. McManis.

By 1968 activity had expanded to five regular chapters located in Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, Tulsa and Providence. In 1968, the Houston Chapter was chaired by R. J. Schwartz, the Los Angeles Chapter by Martin N. Kaplin, the Washington Chapter by Edward W. Bisone, the Tulsa Chapter by John L. Shanks and the Providence, Rhode Island Chapter by Arthur S. Westneat. Since G-GE was one of the smallest IEEE technical societies, attendance at chapter meetings ranged from poor (4 - 5) to excellent (over 30). Chapter chairmen arranged for dinner speakers, local plant tours, and other activities of interest to G-GE members.