Anne Lillian Simpson

January 29, 1929May 5, 2013

Anne L. Simpson, geophysicist and computer scientist, born January 29, 1929 in New York City, passed away May 5, 2013 in Houston, Texas.

She obtained a BS in Physics from Yale University and a PhD in Geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she programmed the Whirlwind Computer and began a 50-year career in digital computer applications. At MIT she taught Geophysics, supervised thesis work and directed research projects. The first such project was computer analysis of seismograms for oil exploration sponsored by a consortium of oil companies. She then spent a year with RCA Missile Electronics and Control developing software for airborne fire control. Returning to MIT she directed a 5-year ARPA investigation into the detection of underground nuclear explosions. With two other MIT professors she formed Geoscience Incorporated dedicated to geophysical applications of computation.

Moving to Duxbury Mass., she created a personal computer facility and formed two small companies. One, Duxbury Systems, involving two friends from the MITRE Corporation, developed the world’s most succesful computer translator from English to Braille. Under the other company, Simpson Programs, she developed and installed an environmental monitoring system for an offshore oil rig in the North Sea, designed a transponder navigation system for unmanned submarines, and began a long term consulting relationship with Western Geophysical Company, initially based in Shreveport. That work consisted of assisting WGC in exploiting modern time series and related mathematics in the massive routine computer processing of exploration seismograms.

In 1978 she moved to Houston, and soon began performing similar R&D services for Digicon, Inc. In 1981 she was asked to establish an Image Processing Laboratory under the Allied Geophysical Laboratories at the University of Houston, supported by an industrial consortium. Here she carried out and directed original research and supervised student theses. She also utilized a personally developed document processing system to assist in the production of an encyclopaedia of geophysical exploration. She stayed at UH as a Visiting Professor of Computer Science teaching computer graphics and working to employ the 3D sophistication of graphics as underpinning of a modeling language for geoscience.

In 1989 she left UH to join Landmark Graphics Corporation, where her contributions included a general cartographic system for Landmark’s processing; a program for finding geologic faults in 3D seismic data and automatically tracking the fault surfaces throughout data volumes; a program for finding complex geologic surfaces such as recumbent folds and salt domes. During this period she also consulted for NASA in the computer interpretation of satellite photos. After ten years at LGC she left to join Continuum Resources, a startup company specializing in the geologic application of virtual reality processing.

During her career she wrote hundreds of technical papers and one book, developed four patents, and debugged over a million lines of computer code. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and the Society for Exploration Geophysics.

Anne Simpson’s birth name was Stephen M. Simpson, Jr. Her life was marked by a gender identity confusion which ended two marriages, which led to brief confinement in a mental institution, and which was resolved medically at midlife. She is survived by Jacqueline Clark, MarjorieManuel, Ruth Woodcock, Charles Burton Meyer, and nine nieces and nephews: Stephen Watters, Susan Watters, Scott Watters, Marjorie Patterson Saboda, William Manuel, John Manuel, Cynthia Ogden, David Ogden, and Katherine Ogden, who were supportive to the end.

A memorial service will be held at Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home on Saturday, May 11, at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Houston Hospice,


  • Memorial Service Saturday, May 11, 2013

Anne Lillian Simpson

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July 31, 2013

I miss Anne very much. She helped me so much over the last 5 years. I don't think I can look at a bird feeder again without thinking of Anne's bird feeder and the enjoyment she got from watching the birds visit the yard! My condolences to all she cared for, especially to Jacqueline Clark, my neighbor. Love, Mary Anne

Katherine O'Callaghan

May 24, 2013

As part of this family, I am very, very proud to have been given the gift of Anne's friendship, her kindness, and her care and love. Katherine

Mary Michaels

May 12, 2013

What a remarkable beautifully talented individual! It would be such a blessing to have known someone with such talent, skill, and the dedication to provide us with...simply...more!

Betty Jo Clark

May 9, 2013

I rejoice in the Lord for Anne's life and home-going, yet I am sorrowful to loose her. Anne was in my family for 50 years and was a dear friend and help at significant crossroads in my life. I will miss her but look to that day in eternity when we will all be together again because all who confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ enter into eternal salvation. Romans 10: 9 & 13 RcV. What a glorious day that will be.

With my love, in Christ at her passing,
Betty Jo Clark, sister of
Jacqueline Clark

May 9, 2013

May the Simpson's family be comforted by reflecting on the promise of a end to all causes of death, pains and sorrows. Please accept my condolences.