Reminiscences of the early days of mass spectrometry in the petroleum industry


  • Seymour Meyerson

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Department, Amoco Corporation, P.O. Box 400, Naperville, Illinois 60566, U.S.A.
    • 650 N. Tippecanoe St., Gary, Indiana 46403, U.S.A.
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  • This report was prepared by invitation for presentation at the 32nd Annual Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics, San Antonio, Texas, May 27-June 1, 1984, under the auspices of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. It is one of a series of five retrospective lectures, one at the start of the technical sessions each day of the conference, covering selected aspects of the history of mass spectrometry. The manuscript was slightly revised subsequent to the presentation at San Antonio.


This retrospect traces the development of commercial mass spectrometers for use in the petroleum industry, starting with the formation of Consolidated Engineering Corporation in 1937 and installation of their first instruments in 1942 and 1943. During the middle and late forties, just keeping the machines running placed major demands on the time, energy and ingenuity of mass spectrometrists. The fifties saw progressive exploration of the chemical basis of mass spectra, culminating in the Eighth Annual Meeting of ASTM Committee E-14 on Mass Spectrometry in 1960. This meeting marked a turning point in the development of the field—its transformation from what was originally almost a cult to a widely accepted and recognized branch of physical organic chemistry.