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General purpose microcomputers have become so inexpensive that powerful systems now are within the budget of a one-person company. The uninitiated have visions of a desktop machine that can do budget reports, royalty accounting, lease control, interactive modeling of the subsurface, contour maps, decision making, dart throwing, and much more. Old hands in major oil companies can see the opposite side: horror stories about expensive programming projects, machines that are overloaded and slow, and enormous staffs required to interface the working geologist with the machine.
The truth about microcomputers is somewhere in between. An intelligent search for software packages will turn up a few that pay for themselves and the computer(s) they require. But buying a machine and attempting to make it fit a "grand vision" can lead to disaster.
This paper presents a perspective on microcomputer capabilities, both software and hardware, now and for the next few years, and suggests a method and a schedule for small-company geologists to become involved with computers.
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