The development of geoscience in Norway has been characterized by close contact with the industry from its start to the present day. Five historical periods can be identified: The first period (1600-1760) started with an emerging mining industry based on imported geological knowledge. This led to a need for collecting geological data, an approach that characterised geological studies in the second period (1760-1850). The combined collection of data, detailed fieldwork and analytical work, formed the basis for the growing understanding of natural geological processes with the founding of geochemistry in the third period (1850-1910). In the fourth period (1910-1960) a solid tradition was established which paved the way for proposed fundamental theories that still dominate international geoscience. The fifth period (1960-present) includes the time of rapid adjustment necessary to meet the needs of the petroleum industry in the 1960s. The fast change of direction of the geosciences as well as the acceleration in development of new technologies that were necessary to meet the demands of the quickly growing oil industry, was only possible because of the existence of a long and solid tradition of geoscience in Norway. An important element in this tradition was the inclusion of new generic knowledge about geological processes and the ability to combine theoretical and academic studies in practical application.