Dr. H. Charles Baker's Career at Exxon Company, U.S.A.
Dr. Baker joined Humble Oil
& Refining Company as of August 1, 1968, becoming Humble's first
Telecommunications Advisor to the Headquarters Telecommunications
Function in Houston, TX. (At that time, Humble was a fully-owned
subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. During Baker's tenure
with the company, its name was changed to Exxon Company, U.S.A., and
Standard Oil changed to Exxon Corporation.)
In his advisory position, Baker worked on a variety of advanced technology
projects and provided technical support for approximately a dozen
electrical engineers and several technicians on their own projects.
His first major challenge included complete project management of
communications and electronic navigation systems for Humble's Northwest
Passage Project. In 1968, oil had
been discovered by Exxon and its partner at Prudhoe Bay on the northern
coast of Alaska. The question then was how to get
this vast quantity of oil to market. Several options were considered,
among them being to bring the oil through the Northwest Passage between the
islands of Canada's Northwest Territories to the east coast of the U.S.
In 1969 and again in 1970, a scientific experiment was conducted involving
the conversion of the then largest
U.S. flag-carrying vessel, the SS MANHATTAN, to an icebreaking tanker.
The ship was outfitted with a thick steel ice belt and numerous sensors to
measure strain, and was sent through the icy waters fully loaded with
seawater to provide momentum.
Dr. Baker was resposible for ship-to-shore, ship-to-ship,
ship-to-helicopter, ship-to-ice, and on-board communications on the
vessel, including CCTV, voice, fax, and data, plus satellite and sonar-based
position fixing and navigation
systems in a geographic region where even the best maps were as much as a
mile in error.
Numerous experimental communications techniques were
this project, many of which have become standard operating procedure in
commercial maritime operations today:
While at Exxon, Dr. Baker was also responsible for developing voice, data,
encryption equipment for use in Exxon's oil exploration and development.
He evenually became the architect of Exxon Corporation's worldwide
electronic security systems.
- First use of UHF portable radios on a ship (now standard practice
in the industry)
- First use of an HF skywave ship-to-shore radio system on a commercial
- First use of a satellite communications earth station on a ship (became
forerunner of today's MARISAT System)
- First use of military (Polaris) satellites for position-fixing of a
commercial ship (became forerunner of today's Global Positioning System--GPS)
- First known use of the Omega navigation system on an ocean-going
- First use of infrared imaging to try to detect ice thickness
ahead of an icebreaking ship
Other interesting projects included development of a 500-mile long
private mobile radio dispatching system for Exxon Pipeline Company,
development of a nationwide private telephone network, development of a
worldwide computerized message handling system, and development of a
nationwide telephone call accounting system.
From 1974 until he left Exxon in 1979, Baker was in charge of all data
communications projects associated with the Exxon Company, U.S.A.
Headquarters Computing Center in Houston. During this time, he worked
with the Computing Center managers,
using data multiplexers and DDS circuits to aid in
consolidating four major computer centers into one. He also worked in
the area of remote testing and control of modems and terminals at over
300 remote unmanned sites (the forerunner of modern SNMP-type
Dr. Baker resigned from Exxon, effective May 1, 1979, to
form his consulting firm, Telecommunications Engineering,
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