Baker Hughes is the combination of many companies that have developed and introduced technology to serve the petroleum service industry. Their combined history dates back to the early 1900s. During its history, Baker Hughes has acquired and assimilated numerous oilfield pioneers including: Brown Oil Tools, CTC, EDECO, and Elder Oil Tools (completions); Milchem and Newpark (drilling fluids); EXLOG (mud logging); Eastman Christensen and Drilex (directional drilling and diamond drill bits); Teleco (measurement while drilling); Tri-State and Wilson (fishing tools and services); Aquaness, Chemlink and Petrolite (specialty chemicals), Western Atlas (seismic exploration, well logging), BJ Services Company (pressure pumping).
The Hughes Tool Company was founded by Walter Benona Sharp and Howard R. Hughes, Sr., father of Howard Hughes, Jr. In 1908, Howard Hughes, Sr. and his partner Walter Sharp, developed the first two-cone drill bit, designed to enable rotary drilling in harder, deeper formations than was possible with earlier fishtail bits. They conducted two secret tests on a drilling rig in Goose Creek, Texas. Each time, Hughes asked the drilling crew to leave the rig floor, pulled the bit from a locked wooden box, and then his associates ran the bit into the hole. The drill pipe twisted off on the first test, but the second was extremely successful. In 1909, the Sharp & Hughes bit was granted a U.S. patent. In the same year, the partners formed the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company in Houston, Texas to manufacture the bit in a rented space measuring 20 by 40 ft (12 m).
After Walter Sharp died in 1912, Mr. Hughes purchased Sharp's half of the business. The company was renamed Hughes Tool Company in 1915. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Hughes Tool Company remained a private enterprise, owned by Howard Hughes, Jr. While Mr. Hughes was engaged in his Hollywood and aviation enterprises, managers in Houston, such as Fred Ayers and Maynard Montrose, kept the tool company growing through technical innovation and international expansion. In 1958, the Engineering and Research Laboratory was enlarged to accommodate six laboratory sections that housed specialized instruments, such as a direct reading spectrometer and x-ray diffractometer. In 1959, Hughes introduced self-lubricating, sealed bearing rock bits. After collecting data from thousands of bit runs, Hughes introduced the first comprehensive guides to efficient drilling practices in 1960; 1964 saw the introduction of the X-Line rock bits, combining new cutting structure designs and hydraulic jets.
Baker International was formed by Reuben C. Baker, who developed a Casing shoe, that revolutionized cable tool drilling. In July 1907, R.C. Baker, a 34 year-old inventor and entrepreneur in Coalinga, California, was granted a U.S. patent for a casing shoe that enabled drillers to efficiently run casing and cement it in oil wells. This innovation launched the business that would become Baker Oil Tools and Baker Hughes Incorporated. Mr. Baker had arrived in the California oilfield in 1895 with 95 cents in his pocket and dreams of making his fortune in the Los Angeles oil boom. Subsequently, he hauled oil for drillers with a team of horses and became a drilling contractor and an oil wildcatter before achieving success as an innovator in oilfield equipment. In 1928, Baker Casing Shoe Company changed its name to Baker Oil Tools, Inc., to reflect its product line of completion, cementing and fishing equipment.
In early 1956, during one of the most successful periods in the company's history, Reuben C. Baker retired as President of Baker Oil Tools. A few weeks later, he died after a brief illness at the age of 85 and was succeeded by his long-time associate Ted Sutter. Although he only had three years of formal education, Mr. Baker had been granted 150 patents. In 1965, Mr. Sutter was succeeded by E.H. "Hubie" Clark, who would become the first Baker Hughes chairman of the board in 1987; during its 80-year history before the Baker Hughes merger, Baker had only three chief executives.
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