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History of Diving
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History of Diving

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415 B.C.

Greek divers are deployed to attack ships in Syracuse.

 

± 360 B.C.

Aristoteles writes his Problemata about divers using containers filled with air to stay under water. In the same text he describes a diving bell which was supposedly used by Alexander the Great during the siege of Tyrus (in present day Lebanon).

 

77

Plinius the Elder mentions the use of air hoses by divers.

 
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1500

Leonardo da Vinci designs the first SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). There is no evidence that Da Vinci ever actually built this SCUBA. In the end, he seems to have concentrated on refining the diving bell.

 

± 1531

Guglielmo de Lorena is one of the first to use a diving bell to complete a one-hour dive.

 

1660

The English physicist Robert Boyle studies the physical properties of compressed air, resulting in Boyle's Law. This law describes the influence of pressure variations on the volume and the density of gases. As pressure varies greatly under water, this law is very important for divers.

 

1679-1680

The Italian physicist Giovanni Borelli designs a rebreather, a system in which chemicals are used to convert the exhaled air into air that can be inhaled again.

 

1690

Edmund Haley (better known for Haley's comet) designs a diving bell that is considered the predecessor of the modern diving bell. In this diving bell he remains under water for 90 minutes.

 
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1715

John Lethbridge is one of the first successful salvage divers. Using a diving bell he salvages numerous treasures from ship wrecks off the coasts of Great Britain and South Africa.

 

± 1772

In France, Dr. Freminet completes a dive in a leather suit with a copper helmet. This "machine hydrostatergatique" further consists of an air container that is connected to the helmet via hoses.

 

1860-1865

Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze design the first working breathing apparatus with demand system, the predecessor of the Aqualung. The system is also used by captain Nemo and the crew of the Nautilus in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

 

1869-1883

In New York the Brooklyn Bridge is built. Many labourers get symptoms after spending a long time in high pressure caissons that are placed in the riverbed. Their disease is called "caisson disease". In 1880, the French physicist Paul Bert determines the cause of caisson disease.

 

1893-1900

Louis Boutan takes the first underwater pictures in which he also uses artifical light. He publishes a handbook for underwater photography, La Photographie Sous-Marine.

 
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1910

J.S. Haldane develops a procedure to prevent decompression illness (caisson disease) and publishes the first five dive tables.

 

1915

The Williamson brothers shoot the first underwater film, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It takes them 1,5 years to create this silent film. The film is shot on the Bahamas.

 

1930-1934

William Beebe and Otis Barton complete several dives in the Bathysphere. In 1930 they reach a depth of 427 meters near Bermuda, in 1932 they reach 661 meters, in 1934 925 meters.

 
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1942-1945

Jacques Yves Cousteau shoots his first underwater film, Par Dix-Huit Metres De Fond. The film is shot using snorkeling equipment, without scuba gear.
In 1943 Cousteau develops the "Aqualung", a breathing apparatus with a demand system. The Aqualung is the basis of all modern diving equipment. From 1945 onwards, the Aqualung is taken into production in France.

 
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1950

Jacques Yves Cousteau buys the research vessel Calypso. In 1951, he leaves on his first expedition, to the Red Sea.

 

1953

Dr. Hugh Bradner develops and introduces the so-called "wet suit" made of neoprene.

 

1954

Al Tillman and Bev Morgan develop the first official training program for recreational divers.

 

1956

Jacques Yves Cousteau is awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival for his film Le Monde Du Silence (The Silent World).

 

1966

Ralph Erickson and John Cronin found the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), an organisation that specializes in recreational dive training.

 
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1975

After 15 years, the growth in the dive industry comes temporarily to a halt as a result of Steven Spielberg's film Jaws. The film causes such a fear of sharks that a lot of people stay out of the water. The sequels, Jaws 2 in 1978 and Jaws 3 in 1983, also have a negative influence on the dive industry.

 

1983

Craig Barshinger, Karl Huggins and Jim Fulton introduce the first commercial dive computer. This computer makes registering depth, dive time and decompression time a lot easier.

 

1985

The dive industry is positively influenced by films such as Splash and Cocoon, which display a new, more positive image of the underwater world.

 

1989-...

The recreational dive industry continues to develop, with more and more emphasis on underwater photography and video. Dive trips become more and more popular. Equipment is developed and improved further with regards to comfort, durability and efficiency. In dive training, the emphasis is more and more on training, safety and protection of the underwater world.

 

Source: PADI Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving, multimedia version.

 

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