Hawaii Scuba Diving
Advertise Your Company Here
Home >> 1900s - 2000s

History of Scuba Diving

People have been diving ever since primitive man started to collect food from the sea. We know this because scientists found undersea artifacts on land and there are depictions of divers in ancient drawings. Men and women have practiced breath-hold diving for thousands of years and there always been an interest in trying to find out how to stay underwater longer. This type of diving is still practiced today in different variations - freediving and skin diving.

Scuba Diving 1941AD - 2003AD

1941-1944 - During World War II, Italian divers used closed circuit scuba equipment to place explosives under British naval and merchant marine ships.

1942-1943 - Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan design and test the first Aqua-Lung. This device is a vast improvement on earlier SCUBA devices and will completely change the sport diving community over the next decade. Early testers of the first prototypes included Philippe Tailliez, Frédéric Dumas, Simone Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau, and Jean-Michel Cousteau.

1946 - Cousteau's Aqua Lung was marketed commercially in France. (Great Britain 1950, Canada 1951, USA 1952).

1947 - Dumas made a record dive with the Aqua Lung to 307 feet in the Mediterranean Sea.

1948 - Otis Barton descended in a modified bathysphere to a depth of 4500 feet, off the coast of California.

1950s - August Picard with son Jacques pioneered a new type of vessel called the bathyscaphe. It was completely self-contained and designed to go deeper than any bathysphere.

1951 - The first issue of "Skin Diver Magazine" appeared in December by Chuck Blakeslee and Jim Auxier, the magazine soon became the central source for information on the industry.

1953 - "The Silent World" by Cousteau was published chronicling the development of the Cousteau-Gagnan Aqua Lung.

1954 - Georges S. Houot and Pierre-Henri Willm used a bathyscaphe to exceed Barton's 1948 diving record, reaching a depth of 13,287 feet.

1954 - Al Tillman and Bev Morgan develop the first public skin and scuba diver education program in the United States. The Los Angeles County program quickly becomes the template for all programs that were to follow.

1958 - The first segment of Sea Hunt aired on television, starring Lloyd Bridges as Mike Hunt, underwater adventurer.

1959 - YMCA began the first nationally organized course for scuba certification.

1960 - Jacques Picard and Don Walsh descended to 35,820 feet in the bathyscaphe Trieste.

1960 - The National Diving Patrol was renamed the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and it was incorporated as a non-profit educational organization. Al Tillman became the first President and Hess became Executive Secretary.

1962 - Capt George F Bond, Jacques Cousteau and Ed Link conduct several underwater experiments whereby divers lived in underwater habitats, times varied from 14 hours - 1 month.

1965 - Al Tillman creates, the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. UNEXSO becomes a prototype for the complete destination diving resort. This is the first time people had a place to go the catered only to divers and provided, in house, everything needed for both in-water and out-of-water activities.

1966 - John Cronin and Ralph Ericson found the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

1968 - John J. Gruener and R. Neal Watson dove to 437 feet breathing compressed air.

1970s - Important advances relating to scuba safety that began in the 1960s became widely implemented in the 1970s, such as certification cards to indicate a minimum level of training, change from J-valve reserve systems to non-reserve K valves, and adoption of the BC and single hose regulators as essential pieces of diving equipment.

1970 - Bob Clark founded Scuba Schools International (SSI).

1977 - The first Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA) trade show convened in Miami, Florida in 1977. The show established itself as a neutral ground where individuals representing various areas of the dive industry could meet to share ideas and discuss the current issues surrounding recreational diving.

1980 - Divers Alert Network (DAN) was founded at Duke University as a non-profit organization to promote safe diving.

1981 - Record 2250 foot-dive was made in a Duke Medical Center chamber.

1983 - The Orca Edge, the first commercially available dive computer, was introduced.

1985 - The wreck of the Titanic was found.

1990s - An estimated 500,000 new scuba divers are certified yearly in the U.S., new scuba magazines form and scuba travel is big business. There is an increase of diving by non-professionals who use advanced technology, including mixed gases, full face masks, underwater voice communication, propulsion systems, and so on.

1999 - SSI merged with the National Association of Scuba Diving Schools (NASDS) and created a new synergy in the dive industry. The sales and marketing expertise of NASDS, when joined with the renowned educational products of SSI

May 2002 - The FBI issued a nationwide alert saying that it has received information about a possible terrorist threat from underwater divers. The threat was serious enough for the agency to contact several scuba shops, seeking information about students and customers.

November 2002 - "Skin Diver" magazine ceased publication.

July 2003 - John Cronin, co-founder of PADI, died.

July 2003 - Tanya Streeter, a world champion freediver, broke both the men's and women's variable ballast freediving world records. She descended 400 feet (122 meters) to capture the variable ballast record and become the first person to ever break all four deep freediving world records.