Timeline of diving technology

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The timeline of underwater diving technology is a chronological list of notable events in the history of underwater diving.


  • Ancient Roman and Greek era.: There have been many instances of men swimming or diving for combat, but they always had to hold their breath, and had no diving equipment, except sometimes a hollow plant stem used as a snorkel.[1]
  • About 500 BC: (Information originally from Herodotus): During a naval campaign the Greek Scyllis was taken aboard ship as prisoner by the Persian King Xerxes I. When Scyllis learned that Xerxes was to attack a Greek flotilla, he seized a knife and jumped overboard. The Persians could not find him in the water and presumed he had drowned. Scyllis made his way among all the ships in Xerxes's fleet, cutting each ship loose from its moorings; he used a hollow reed as snorkel to remain unobserved. Then he swam nine miles (15 kilometers) to rejoin the Greeks off Cape Artemisium.[2][3][4][5][6][7]
  • The use of diving bells was recorded by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in the 4th century BC: "...they enable the divers to respire equally well by letting down a cauldron, for this does not fill with water, but retains the air, for it is forced straight down into the water."[8]
  • 1300 or earlier: Persian divers were using diving goggles with windows made of the polished outer layer of tortoiseshell.[6]
  • 15th century: Konrad Kyeser, illustrated his manual of military technology Bellifortis with a diving suit fitted with a hose to the surface. The drawing is also visible in Ms.Thott.290.2º[clarification needed] attributed to Hans Talhoffer, which reproduces sections of Bellifortis.[9]
  • 15th century: Leonardo da Vinci made the first known mention of air tanks in Italy: he wrote in his Atlantic Codex (Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan) that systems were used at that time to artificially breathe under water, but he did not explain them in detail. Some drawings, however, showed different kinds of snorkels and an air tank (to be carried on the breast) that presumably should have no external connections. Other drawings showed a complete immersion kit, with a plunger suit which included a sort of mask with a box for air. The project was so detailed that it included a urine collector.[10]
  • 1535: Guglielmo de Lorena and Francesco de Marchi dived on a Roman vessel in Lake Nemi using a one-man diving bell invented by Guglielmo.[11]
  • 1616: Franz Kessler built an improved diving bell.[12]
  • Around 1620: Cornelius Drebbel may have made a crude rebreather: see Rebreather#History of rebreathers.[12]
  • 1650: Otto von Guericke built the first air pump.[12]
  • 1715:

Industrial era[edit]

Start of modern diving[edit]

  • 1772: the first diving dress using a compressed-air reservoir was successfully designed and built in 1772 by Sieur (old French for "sir" or "Mister") Fréminet, a Frenchman from Paris. Fréminet conceived an autonomous breathing machine equipped with a helmet, two hoses for inhalation and exhalation, a suite and a reservoir, dragged by and behind the diver,[15] although Fréminet later put it on his back.[16] Fréminet called his invention machine hydrostatergatique and used it successfully for more than ten years in the harbours of Le Havre and Brest, as stated in the explanatory text of a 1784 painting.[17][18]
  • 1774: John Day became the first person known to have died in an underwater accident while testing a "diving chamber" in Plymouth Sound.[19][20]
  • 1776: David Bushnell invented the Turtle, first submarine to attack another ship. It was used in the American Revolution.[21]
  • 1797: Karl Heinrich Klingert designed a full diving dress in 1797. This design consisted of a large metal helmet and similarly large metal belt connected by leather jacket and pants.[22]
  • 1798: in June F. W. Joachim, employed by Klingert, successfully completed the first practical tests of Klingert's armor.[citation needed]
  • 1800: Captain Peter Kreeft of Germany dived several times with his helmet diving equipment to show it to King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden.[23]
  • 1800: Robert Fulton built a submarine, the "Nautilus".[24]
  • 1825: Johan Patrik Ljungström demonstrated his diving bell built of tinned copper with space for a crew of 2-3 persons, equipped with compass and methods of communication to the surface, successfully diving down to 25 ells[when defined as?] with Ljungström and an assistant on board, and wrote a book on the organisation of private underwater diving[25]
  • 1837: Captain William H. Taylor demonstrated his "submarine dress" at the annual American Institute Fair at Niblo's Garden, New York City.[citation needed]
  • 1839:
    • Canadian inventors James Eliot and Alexander McAvity of Saint John, New Brunswick patented an "oxygen reservoir for divers", a device carried on the diver's back containing "a quantity of condensed oxygen gas or common atmospheric air proportionate to the depth of water and adequate to the time he is intended to remain below".[26]
    • W.H.Thornthwaite of Hoxton in London patented an inflatable lifting jacket for divers.[27]
  • Around 1842: The Frenchman Joseph-Martin Cabirol (1799–1874) settled a company in Paris and starts making standard diving dresses.[28]
  • 1843: Based on lessons learned from the Royal George salvage, the first diving school is set up by the Royal Navy.[citation needed]
  • 1845 James Buchanan Eads designed and built a diving bell and began salvaging cargo from the bottom of the Mississippi River, eventually working on the river bottom from the mouth of the river at the Gulf of Mexico to Iowa.[29]
  • 1856: Wilhelm Bauer started the first of 133 successful dives with his second submarine Seeteufel. The crew of 12 was trained to leave the submerged ship through a diving chamber (airlock).[30]
  • 1860: Giovanni Luppis, a retired engineer of the Austro-Hungarian navy, demonstrated a design for a self-propelled torpedo to emperor Franz Joseph.[31]
  • 1864: H.L. Hunley became the first submarine to sink a ship, the USS Housatonic, during the American Civil War.[32]
  • 1866: Minenschiff, the first self-propelled (locomotive) torpedo, developed by Robert Whitehead (to a design by Captain Luppis, Austrian Navy), was demonstrated for the imperial naval commission on December 21.[33]
  • 1882: Brothers Alphonse and Théodore Carmagnolle of Marseille, France, patented the first properly anthropomorphic design of ADS (atmospheric diving suit). Featuring 22 rolling convolute joints that were never entirely waterproof and a helmet that possessed 25 2-inch (51 mm) glass viewing ports,[34] it weighed 380 kilograms (840 lb) and was never put in service.[35]


  • 1808: on June 17, Sieur Pierre-Marie Touboulic  [fr] from Brest, a mechanic in Napoleon's Imperial Navy, patented the oldest known oxygen rebreather, but there is no evidence of any prototype having been manufactured. This early rebreather design worked with an oxygen reservoir, the oxygen being delivered progressively by the diver himself and circulating in a closed circuit through a sponge soaked in limewater.[36] Touboulic called his invention Ichtioandre (Greek for 'fish-man').[37]
  • 1849: Pierre-Aimable de Saint Simon Sicard (a chemist) made the first practical oxygen rebreather. It was demonstrated in London in 1854.[27]
  • 1853: Professor T. Schwann designed a rebreather in Belgium; he exhibited it in Paris in 1878.[38] It had a big backpack oxygen tank at pressure about 13 bar, and two scrubbers containing sponges soaked in caustic soda.
  • 1876: An English merchant seaman, Henry Fleuss, developed the first workable self-contained diving rig that used compressed oxygen. This prototype of closed-circuit scuba used rope soaked in caustic potash to absorb carbon dioxide so the exhaled gas could be re-breathed.[39]

Diving helmets improved and in common use[edit]

  • 1808: Brizé-Fradin designed a small bell-like helmet connected to a low-pressure backpack air container.[27]
  • 1820: Paul Lemaire d'Augerville (a Parisian dentist) invented and made a diving apparatus with a copper backpack cylinder, and with a counterlung to save air, and with an inflatable lifejacket connected. It was used down to 15 or 20 meters for up to an hour in salvage work. He started a successful salvage company.[27]
  • 1825: William H. James designed a self-contained diving suit that had compressed air in an iron container worn around the waist.[citation needed]
  • 1827: Beaudouin in France developed a diving helmet fed from an air cylinder pressurized to 80 to 100 bar. The French Navy was interested, but nothing came of this.[27]
  • 1829: (1828?)
    • Charles Anthony Deane and John Deane of Whitstable in Kent in England designed the first air-pumped diving helmet for use with a diving suit. It is said[by whom?]that the idea started from a crude emergency rig-up of a fireman's water-pump (used as an air pump) and a knight-in-armour helmet used to try to rescue horses from a burning stable. Others say that it was based on earlier work in 1823 developing a "smoke helmet".[40] However the suit was not attached to the helmet, so a diver could not bend over or invert without risk of flooding the helmet and drowning. Nevertheless, the diving system is used in salvage work, including the successful removal of cannon from the British warship HMS Royal George in 1834–35. This 108-gun fighting ship sank in 65 feet of water at Spithead anchorage in 1783.[40]
    • E.K.Gauzen, a Russian naval technician of Kronshtadt naval base (a district of Saint Petersburg), offered a "diving machine". His invention was an air-pumped metallic helmet strapped to a leather suit (an overall). The bottom of the helmet was open. The helmet is strapped to the leather suit by metallic tape. Gauzen's diving suit and its further modifications were used by the Russian Navy until 1880. The modified diving suit of the Russian Navy, based on Gauzen's invention, was known as "three-bolt equipment".[citation needed]
  • 1837: Following up Leonardo's studies, and those of the astronomer Halley, Augustus Siebe developed surface supplied diving apparatus which became known as standard diving dress.[41] By attaching the Deane brothers helmet to a suit, Augustus Siebe developed the Siebe "Closed" Dress combination diving helmet and suit, considered the foundation of modern diving dress. This was a significant evolution from previous models of "open" dress that did not allow a diver to invert. (Siebe-Gorman went on to manufacture helmets continuously until 1975).[40]
  • 1840: The Royal Navy uses Siebe closed dress for salvage and blasting work on the "Royal George", and subsequently the Royal Engineers standardise on this equipment.[40]
  • 1843: The Royal Navy establishes the first diving school.[40]
  • 1855: Joseph-Martin Cabirol patented a new model of standard diving dress, mainly issued from Siebe's designs. The suit was made out of rubberized canvas and the helmet, for the first time, includes a hand-controlled tap that the diver used to evacuate his exhaled air. The tap included on its turn a safety valve which prevented water from entering in the helmet. Until 1855 diving helmets were equipped with only three circular windows (for front, left and right sides). Cabirol's helmet introduced the later well known fourth window, situated in the upper front part of the helmet and allowing the diver to watch above him. Having been presented to the Exposition Universelle in Paris Cabirol's diving dress won the silver medal. These original diving dress and helmet are now preserved at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris.[42]

The first diving regulators[edit]

Diving set by Rouquayrol and Denayrouze with barrel-shaped air tank on the diver's back, depicted here in its surface-supplied configuration.
  • 1838: Dr. Manuel Théodore Guillaumet invented a twin-hose demand regulator. On June 19, 1838, in London, England, a Mr. William Edward Newton filed a patent (no. 7695: "Diving apparatus") for a diaphragm-actuated, twin-hose demand valve for divers.[43] However, it is believed that Mr. Newton was merely filing a patent on behalf of Dr. Guillaumet. The illustration of the apparatus in Newton's patent application is identical to that in Guillaumet's patent application; furthermore, Mr. Newton was apparently an employee of the British Office for Patents, who applied for patents on behalf of foreign applicants.[44] It is demonstrated in surface-demand use. During the demonstration, use duration was limited to 30 minutes because the dive was in cold water without a diving suit.[45][46][47]
  • 1860: in Espalion (France), mining engineer Benoît Rouquayrol designed a self-contained breathing set with a backpack cylindrical air tank that supplied air through the first demand regulator to be commercialized (as of 1865, see below). Rouquayrol calls his invention régulateur ('regulator'), having conceived it to help miners avoid drowning in flooded mines.[citation needed]
  • 1864: Benoît Rouquayrol met navy officer Auguste Denayrouze for the first time, in Espalion, and on Denayrouze's initiative, they adapted Rouquayrol's invention to diving. After having adapted it, they called their recently patented device appareil plongeur Rouquayrol-Denayrouze ('Rouquayrol-Denayrouze diving apparatus'). The diver still walked on the seabed and did not swim. The air pressure tanks made with the technology of the time could only hold 30 atmospheres, allowing dives of only 30 minutes at no more than ten metres deep;[48] during surface-supplied configuration the tank was also used for bailout in the case of a hose failure. The durations of 6 to 8 hours on a tankful without external supply recorded for the Rouquayrol set in the book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, are wildly exaggerated fiction.[citation needed]
  • 1865: on August the 28th the French Navy Minister ordered the first Rouquayrol-Denayrouze diving apparatus and large scale production started.[36]

Gas and air cylinders appear[edit]

  • Late 19th century: Industry began to be able to make high-pressure air and gas cylinders. That prompted a few inventors down the years to design open-circuit compressed air breathing sets, but they were all constant-flow, and the demand regulator did not come back until 1937.[citation needed]

Underwater photography[edit]

The oceanographer and biologist Emil Racoviță, here equipped with a standard diving dress. An underwater photograph taken by Louis Boutan (Banyuls-sur-Mer, south of France, 1899).
  • 1893: Louis Boutan invented the first underwater camera and made the first underwater photographs.[citation needed]
  • 1900: Louis Boutan published La Photographie sous-marine et les progrès de la photographie (The Underwater Photography and the Advances in Photography), the first book about underwater photography.[citation needed]

Decompression sickness recognised as a problem[edit]

  • 1841: First documented case of decompression sickness occurred, reported by a mining engineer who observed pain and muscle cramps among coal miners working in mine shafts air-pressurized to keep water out.[12]
  • 1870: Bauer[who?] published outcomes of 25 paralyzed caisson workers.[49]
  • From 1870 to 1910 all prominent symptoms/causes of decompression sickness were established: explanations at the time included: cold or exhaustion causing reflex spinal cord damage; electricity caused by friction on compression; or organ congestion and vascular stasis caused by decompression.[12]
  • 1871: The St Louis Eads Bridge employed 352 compressed air workers including Dr. Alphonse Jaminet as the physician in charge. There were 30 seriously injured and 12 fatalities. Dr. Jaminet himself suffered a case of decompression sickness when he ascended to the surface in four minutes after spending almost three hours at a depth of 95 feet in a caisson, and his description of his own experience was the first such recorded.[50]
  • 1872: The similarity between decompression sickness and iatrogenic air embolism as well as the relationship between inadequate decompression and decompression sickness were noted by Friedburg.[clarification needed] He suggested that intravascular gas was released by rapid decompression and recommended: slow compression and decompression; four-hour working shifts; limit to maximum depth 44.1 psig (4 ATA); using only healthy workers; and recompression treatment for severe cases.[12]
  • 1873: Dr. Andrew Smith first used the term "caisson disease" to describe 110 cases of decompression sickness as the physician in charge during construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.[50] The project employed 600 compressed air workers. Recompression treatment was not used. The project chief engineer Washington Roebling suffered from caisson disease. (He took charge after his father John Augustus Roebling died of tetanus.) Washington's wife, Emily, helped manage the construction of the bridge after his sickness confined him to his home in Brooklyn. He battled the after-effects of the disease for the rest of his life. During this project, decompression sickness became known as "The [Grecian] Bends" because afflicted individuals characteristically arched their backs: this is possibly reminiscent of a then fashionable women's dance maneuver known as the Grecian Bend.[citation needed]
  • 1878: Paul Bert published La Pression barométrique, providing the first systematic understanding of the causes of DCS.[51]

Twentieth century[edit]

  • 1900: John P. Holland built the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the U.S. Navy, Holland (also called A-1).[52]
    • Leonard Hill used a frog model to prove that decompression causes bubbles and that recompression resolves them.[12]
  • 1903: Siebe Gorman started to make a submarine escape set in England; in the years afterwards it was improved, and later was called the Davis Escape Set or Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus.[39]
  • from 1903 to 1907: Professor Georges Jaubert, invented Oxylithe, a mixture of peroxides of sodium (Na2O2) and potassium with a small amount of salts of copper or nickel, which produces oxygen in the presence of water.[53]
  • 1905:
    • Several sources, including the 1991 US Navy Dive Manual (pg 1-8), state that the MK V Deep Sea Diving Dress was designed by the Bureau of Construction & Repair in 1905, but in reality, the 1905 Navy Handbook shows British Siebe-Gorman helmets in use. Since the earliest known MK V is dated 1916, these sources are probably referring to the earlier MK I, MK II, MK III & MK IV Morse and Schrader helmets.[40]
    • The first rebreather with metering valves to control the supply of oxygen was made.[citation needed]
  • 1907: Draeger of Lübeck made a rebreather called the U-Boot-Retter. (submarine rescuer).[citation needed]
  • 1908:
  • 1910: the British Robert Davis invented his own submarine rescuer rebreather, the Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus, for the Royal Navy submarine crews.[citation needed]
  • 1912:
  • 1913: The US Navy began developing the future MK V, influenced by Schrader and Morse designs.[55][40]
  • 1914: Modern swimfins were invented by the Frenchman Louis de Corlieu, capitaine de corvette (Lieutenant Commander) in the French Navy. In 1914 De Corlieu made a practical demonstration of his first prototype for a group of navy officers.[58]
  • 1915: The submarine USS F-4 was salvaged from 304 feet establishing the practical limits for air diving. Three US Navy divers, Frank W. Crilley, William F. Loughman, and Nielson, reached 304 fsw using the MK V dress.[40]
  • 1916:
    • The basic design of the MK V dress was finalized by including a battery-powered telephone, but several more detail improvements were made over the next two years.[40]
    • The Draeger model DM 2 became standard equipment of the Imperial German Navy.[citation needed]
  • 1917: The Bureau of Construction & Repair adopted the MK V helmet and dress, which remained the standard for US Navy diving until the introduction of the MK 12 in the late seventies.[40]
  • 1918: the "Ohgushi's Peerless Respirator" was first patented. Invented in 1916 by Riichi Watanabi and the blacksmith Kinzo Ohgushi, and used with either surface supplied air or a 150 bar steel scuba cylinder holding 1000 litres free air, the valve supplied air to a mask over the diver's nose and eyes and the demand valve was operated by the diver's teeth. Gas flow was proportional to bite force and duration. The breathing apparatus was used successfully for fishing and salvage work and by the military Japanese Underwater Unit until the end of the Pacific War.[59][60]
  • Around 1920: Hanseatischen Apparatebau-Gesellschaft made a 2-cylinder breathing apparatus with double-lever single-stage demand valve and single wide corrugated breathing tube with mouthpiece, and a "duck's beak" exhalent valve in the regulator. It was described in a mine rescue handbook in 1930. They were successors to Ludwig von Bremen of Kiel, who had the licence to make the Rouquayrol-Denayrouze apparatus in Germany.[61]
  • 1924:
    • De Corlieu left the French Navy to fully devote himself to his invention.[62]
    • Experimental dives using helium-oxygen mixtures sponsored by the US Navy and Bureau of Mines.[40]
  • 1925:
    • Maurice Fernez introduced a new model of his underwater surface-supplied apparatus at the Grand Palais. Yves le Prieur, an assistant at the exhibition, decided to meet Fernez in person and asked him to transform the equipment into a manually-controlled constant flow self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.[63]
    • Due to post World War I cutbacks, the US Navy found it had only 20 divers qualified to dive deeper than 90 feet when salvaging the submarine S-51.[40]
  • 1926:
    • Fernez-Le Prieur self-contained underwater breathing apparatus was demonstrated to the public in Paris,[64] and adopted by the French Navy.[citation needed]
    • Draeger introduced a rescue breathing apparatus that the wearer could swim with. Previous devices served only for submarine escape and were designed to provide buoyancy so that the wearer was lifted to the surface without effort, the diving set had weights, which made it possible to dive for search and rescue after an accident.[citation needed]
  • 1927: US Navy School of Diving and Salvage was re-established at Washington Navy Yard, and the Experimental Diving Unit brought from Pittsburgh to Washington Navy Yard.[40]
  • 1928: Davis invented the Submersible Decompression Chamber (SDC) diving bell.[40]
  • 1929: Lieutenant C.B."Swede" Momsen, a submariner and diver, developed and tested the submarine escape apparatus named the Momsen Lung.[40]
  • The 1930s:
  • 1933:
    • In April Louis de Corlieu registered a new patent (number 767013, which in addition to two fins for the feet included two spoon-shaped fins for the hands) and called this equipment propulseurs de natation et de sauvetage (which can be translated as "swimming and rescue propulsion device").[58]
    • In San Diego, California, the first sport diving club was started by Glenn Orr, Jack Prodanovich and Ben Stone, called the San Diego Bottom Scratchers.[65] As far as it is known, it did not use breathing sets; its main aim was spearfishing.
    • More is known of Yves Le Prieur's constant-flow open-circuit breathing set. It is said that it could allow a 20-minute stay at 7 meters and 15 minutes at 15 meters. It has one cylinder feeding into a circular fullface mask. Its air cylinder was often worn at an angle to get its on/off valve in reach of the diver's hand.[citation needed]
  • 1934:
    • In France, Beuchat established a scuba diving and spearfishing equipment manufacturing company.[66]
    • In France a sport diving club was started, called the Club des Sous-l'Eau = "club of those [who are] under the water". It did not use breathing sets as far as is known. Its main aim was spearfishing. ("Club des Sous-l'Eau" was later realized to be a homophone of "club des soulôts" = "club of the drunkards", and was changed to ‘Club des Scaphandres et de la Vie Sous L’Eau’ = "Club of the diving apparatuses and of underwater life".)[citation needed]
    • Otis Barton and William Beebe dived to 3028 feet using a bathysphere.[citation needed]
  • 1935: The French Navy adopted the Le Prieur breathing set.[67]
    • On the French Riviera, the first known sport scuba diving club Club Des Scaphandres et de la Vie Sous L'eau (The club for divers and life underwater) was started by Le Prieur & Jean Painleve. It used Le Prieur's breathing sets.[citation needed]
  • 1937: US Navy published its revised diving tables based on the work of O.D. Yarbrough.[55]
  • 1937: The American Diving Equipment and Salvage Company (now known as DESCO) developed a heavy bottom-walking-type diving suit with a self-contained mixed-gas helium and oxygen rebreather.[citation needed]
  • 1939: After floundering for years, even producing his fins in his own flat in Paris, De Corlieu finally started mass production of his invention in France. The same year he rented a licence to Owen P. Churchill for mass production in the United States. To sell his fins in the USA Owen Churchill changed the French De Corlieu's name (propulseurs) to "swimfins", which is still the English name. Churchill presented his fins to the US Navy, who decided to acquire them for its Underwater Demolition Team (UDT).[citation needed]
    • Hans Hass and Hermann Stelzner of Drager, in Germany made the M138 rebreather. It was developed from the 1912 escape set, a type of rebreather used to exit sunken submarines. The M138 sets were oxygen rebreathers with a 150 bar, 0.6 liter tank and appeared in many of his movies and books.[citation needed]
  • 1941: The Italian Navy's Decima Flottiglia MAS using oxygen rebreathers and manned torpedoes, attacked the British fleet in Alexandria harbor.[68]
  • 1944: American UDT and British COPP frogmen (COPP: Combined Operations Pilotage Parties) used the "Churchill fins" during all prior underwater deminings, allowing this way in 1944 the Normandy landings. During years after World War II had ended, De Corlieu spent time and efforts struggling into civil procedures, demanding others for patent infringement.[69]

The demand regulator reappears[edit]

World War II[edit]

  • 1939: Georges Commeinhes offered his breathing set to the French Navy, which could not continue developing uses for it because of WWII.[citation needed]
  • 1940-1944: Christian J. Lambertsen of the United States designed a rebreather 'Breathing apparatus' for the U.S. military.[citation needed]
  • 1942: Georges Commeinhes patented a better version of his scuba set, now called the GC42 ("G" for Georges, "C" for Commeinhes and "42" for 1942). Some are made by the Commeinhes' company.[citation needed]
  • 1942: with no relation with the Commeinhes family, Émile Gagnan, an engineer employed by the Air Liquide company, obtained a Rouquayrol-Denayrouze apparatus (property of the Bernard Piel company in 1942) in Paris. He miniaturized and adapted it to gas generators, since the Germans occupy France and confiscated the French fuel for war purposes. Gagnan's boss and owner of the Air Liquide company, Henri Melchior, decided to introduce Gagnan to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, his son-in-law, because he knows that Cousteau is looking for an efficient and automatic demand regulator. They met in Paris in December 1942 and adapted Gagnan's regulator to a diving cylinder.[70]
  • 1943: after fixing some technical problems, Cousteau and Gagnan patented the first modern demand regulator.[citation needed]
    • Air Liquide built two more aqualungs: these three are owned by Cousteau but also at the disposal of his first two diving companions Frédéric Dumas and Taillez. They use them to shoot the film Épaves (Shipwrecks), the first underwater film shot using scuba sets.[71]
    • In July Commeinhes reached 53 metres (about 174 feet) using his GC42 breathing set off the coast of Marseille.[72]
    • In October, and not knowing about Commeinhes's exploit, Dumas dived with a Cousteau-Gagnan prototype and reached 62 metres (about 200 feet) off Les Goudes, not far from Marseille. He experienced what is now called nitrogen narcosis.[73]
  • 1944: Commeinhes died in the liberation of Strasbourg in Alsace.[74] His invention was overtaken by Cousteau's invention.[75]
  • Various nations use frogmen equipped with rebreathers for war actions: see Human torpedo.[citation needed]
  • Hans Hass later said that during WWII the German diving gear firm Dräger offered him an open-circuit scuba set with a demand regulator. It may have been a separate invention, or it may have been copied from a captured Commeinhes-type set.[citation needed]
  • Early 1944: the USA government, to try to stop men from being drowned in sunken army tanks, asked the company Mine Safety Appliances (MSA) for a suitable small escape breathing set. MSA provided a small open-circuit breathing set with a small (5 to 7 liters) air cylinder, a circular demand regulator with a two-lever system similar to Cousteau's design (connected to the cylinder by a nut and cone nipple connection), and one corrugated wide breathing tube connected to a mouthpiece. This set was stated to be made from "off-the-shelf" items, which shows that MSA already had that regulator design; also, that regulator looks like the result of development and not a prototype; it may have arisen around 1943.[76] In an example recovered in 2003 from a submerged Sherman tank in the Bay of Naples, the cylinder was bound round in tape and tied to a lifejacket. These sets were too late for the D-day landings in June 1944, but were used in the invasion of the south of France and in the Pacific war.[citation needed]
  • 1944: Cousteau's first aqualung was destroyed by a stray artillery shell in an Allied landing on the French Riviera: that leaves two.[citation needed]


  • The public first heard about frogmen.[citation needed]
  • 1945: In Toulon, Cousteau showed the film Épaves to the Admiral Lemonnier. The Admiral then made Cousteau responsible for the creation of the underwater research unit of the French Navy (the GRS, Groupe de Recherches Sous-marines, nowadays called the CEPHISMER).[77] GRS' first mission was to clear of mines the French coasts and harbours. While creating the GRS, Cousteau only had at his disposal the two remaining Aqua-Lung prototypes made by l'Air Liquide in 1943.[78]
  • 1946:
    • Air Liquide created La Spirotechnique and started to sell Cousteau-Gagnan sets under the names of scaphandre Cousteau-Gagnan ('Cousteau-Gagnan scuba set'), CG45 ("C" for Cousteau, "G" for Gagnan and "45" for 1945, year of their first postwar patent) or Aqua-Lung, the latter for commercialization in English-speaking countries. This word is correctly a tradename that goes with the Cousteau-Gagnan patent, but in Britain it has been commonly used as a generic and spelt "aqualung" since at least the 1950s, including in the BSAC's publications and training manuals, and describing scuba diving as "aqualunging".[citation needed]
    • Henri Broussard founded the first post-WWII scuba diving club, the Club Alpin Sous-Marin. Broussard was one of the first men who Cousteau trained in the GRS.[79]
    • Yves Le Prieur invented a new version of his breathing set. Its fullface mask's front plate was loose in its seating and acted as a very big, and therefore, very sensitive diaphragm for a demand regulator: see Diving regulator#Demand valve.[citation needed]
    • The first known underwater diving club in Britain, "The Amphibians Club", is formed in Aberdeen by Ivor Howitt (who modified an old civilian gas mask) and some friends. They called underwater diving "fathomeering", to distinguish from jumping into water.[citation needed]
    • The Cave Diving Group (CDG) is formed in Britain.[citation needed]
  • 1947: Maurice Fargues became the first diver to die using an aqualung while attempting a new depth record with Cousteau's Undersea Research Group near Toulon.[20]
  • 1948:
  • 1948 or 1949: Rene's Sporting Goods shop in California imported aqualungs from France. Two graduate students, Andy Rechnitzer and Bob Dill obtained a set and began to use it for underwater research. Hollywood noticed Aqualungs and was interested.[citation needed]
  • 1949: Otis Barton made a record dive to 4,500 feet in the Benthoscope.[citation needed]
  • 1950: a British naval diving manual printed soon after this said that the aqualung is to be used for walking on the bottom with a heavy diving suit and weighted boots, and did not mention Cousteau.[citation needed]
  • 1951:
    • The movie "The Frogmen" was released. It was set in the Pacific Ocean in WWII. In its last 20 minutes, it shows USA frogmen, using bulky 3-cylindered aqualungs on a combat mission. This equipment use is anachronistic (in reality they would have used rebreathers), but it shows that aqualungs were available (even if not widely known of) in the US in 1951.[citation needed]
    • The US Navy started to develop wetsuits, but not known to the public.[55][81][82]
    • In December 1951 the first issue of Skin Diver Magazine (USA) appeared. The magazine ran until November 2002.[citation needed]
    • Cousteau-type aqualungs went on sale in Canada.[citation needed]
  • 1952:
    • UC Berkeley and subsequent UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography physicist Hugh Bradner, invented the modern wetsuit.[83]
    • Cousteau-type aqualungs went on sale in the USA.[citation needed]
    • Ted Eldred in Melbourne, Australia started making for public sale the Porpoise (make of scuba gear). This was the world's first commercially available single-hose scuba unit and was the forerunner of most sport SCUBA equipment produced today. Only about 12,000 were made.[citation needed]
    • After World War II Lambertsen called his 1940-1944 rebreather LARU (for Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit) but as of 1952 Lambertsen renamed his invention and coined the acronym SCUBA (for "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus"). During the following years this acronym was used, more and more, to identify the Cousteau-Gagnan apparatus, taking the place of its original name (Aqualung). In Britain the word aqualung, used for any demand-valve-controlled open-circuit scuba set, still continues to be used nowadays; in old times it was sometimes inaccurately for any scuba set including rebreathers.[citation needed]

Public interest in scuba diving takes off[edit]

Norwegian diving pioneer Odd Henrik Johnsen with 1960's diving equipment.

Twenty-first century[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mergulhadores de combate" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on January 16, 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  2. ^ Beloe, William, ed. (1791). The History of Herodotus. 3. London, England: Leigh and Sotheby. p. 342.
  3. ^ Pausanius with W.H.S. Jones, trans. & ed., Description of Greece (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1929), volume 4, p. 471.
  4. ^ W. R. Paton, trans. The Greek Anthology (London, England: William Heinemann, 1917), volume 3, pp. 158-159, Epigram 296 (by Apollonides).
  5. ^ Frost, Frank J. (October 1968) "Scyllias: Diving in Antiquity," Greece and Rome, 2nd series, 15 (2) : 180-185.
  6. ^ a b Marx, Robert F. (1990). The History of Underwater Exploration. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. p. 11. ISBN 9780486264875.
  7. ^ "Scyllis" has also been spelled Scillis, Scyllias, Scyllos, and Scyllus.
  8. ^ Bachrach, Arthur J. (Spring 1998). "History of the Diving Bell". Historical Diving Times (21).
  9. ^ Marc van den Broek (2019) (in English), Leonardo da Vinci Spirits of Invention. A Search for Traces, Hamburg: A.TE.M., ISBN 978-3-00-063700-1 
  10. ^ "Leonardo da Vinci -- Diving Apparatus". British Library. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  11. ^ Eliav, Joseph (19 January 2015). "Guglielmo's Secret: The Enigma of the First Diving Bell Used in Underwater Arcaheology". The International Journal for the History of Engineering & Technology. 85: 60–69. doi:10.1179/1758120614Z.00000000060.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Acott, C. (1999). "A brief history of diving and decompression illness". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 29 (2). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  13. ^ De Beauve's diving dress mentioned (in English) in the Musée du Scaphandre website (a diving museum in Espalion, south of France)
  14. ^ de Beauve's diving dress dedicated page (in French) in the Musée du Scaphandre website (a diving museum in Espalion, south of France)
  15. ^ Fréminet's invention mentioned in the Musée du Scaphandre website (a diving museum in Espalion, south of France)
  16. ^ Alain Perrier, 250 réponses aux questions du plongeur curieux, Éditions du Gerfaut, Paris, 2008, ISBN 978-2-35191-033-7 (p.46, in French)
  17. ^ French explorer and inventor Jacques-Yves Cousteau mentions Fréminet's invention and shows this 1784 painting in his 1955 documentary Le Monde du silence.
  18. ^ In 1784 Fréminet sent six copies of a treatise about his machine hydrostatergatique to the chamber of Guienne (nowadays called Guyenne). On April 5, 1784, the archives of the Chamber of Guienne (Chambre de Commerce de Guienne) officially recorded: Au sr Freminet, qui a adressé à la Chambre six exemplaires d'un précis sur une « machine hydrostatergatique » de son invention, destinée à servir en cas de naufrage ou de voie d'eau déclarée.
  19. ^ Tall, Jeffrey (2002). Submarines & Deep-Sea Vehicles. Thunder Bay Press. ISBN 978-1-57145-778-3.
  20. ^ a b c Ecott, Tim (2001). Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 978-0-87113-794-4. LCCN 2001018840.
  21. ^ Charles Griswold to Professor Silliman, Lyme CT, 21 Feb 1820; from "The Beginning of Modern Submarine Warfare, under Captain-Lieutenant David Bushnell, Sappers and Miners, Army of the Revolution;" Henry L. Abbot (pamphlet, 1881); reproduced by Frank Anderson (Archon Books and Shoe String Press, Hamden CT, 1966); pp 26-28
  22. ^ Raanan, Gidi (March 2010). "Karl Heinrich Klingert's diving suit, 1797". Submarines on Stamps. Retrieved 2018-01-24.
  23. ^ Historical Diver. Historical Diving Society U.S.A. 2002.
  24. ^ Dickinson, Henry Winram (1913). Robert Fulton, engineer and artist; his life and works. London, John Lane; New York.
  25. ^ Protocol, Åmåls Rådhus, 10 February 1827, J. Jacobson
  26. ^ Mario Theriault, Great Maritime Inventions 1833-1950, Goose Lane, 2001, p. 46
  27. ^ a b c d e Historical Diving Society magazine issue 45, page 37
  28. ^ Historical Diving Times: The Newsletter of the Historical Diving Society. Historical Diving Society. 2004.
  29. ^ Christensen, Lawrence O.; Foley, William E.; Kremer, Gary (October 1999). Dictionary of Missouri Biography. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0-8262-6016-1.
  30. ^ Elliott, David. "A short history of submarine escape: The development of an extreme air dive". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 29 (2). Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  32. ^ Neyland, Robert S (2005). "Underwater Archaeology and the Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley". In: Godfrey, JM; Shumway, SE. Diving for Science 2005. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Symposium on March 10–12, 2005 at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, Groton, Connecticut. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
  33. ^ "Robert Whitehead". Grace's Guide. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  34. ^ "The Carmagnolle Brothers Armoured Dress". Historical Diving Times (37). Autumn 2005.
  35. ^ Roc Roussey, Vincent. "Mannequins équipés en matériel français" [Suits of French manufacture] (in French). Association Les Pieds Lourds. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  36. ^ a b "plongee souterraine - avec ou sans bulles".
  37. ^ Ichtioandre's technical drawing.
  38. ^ Bech, Janwillem. "Theodor Schwann". Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  39. ^ a b Quick, D. (1970). "A History Of Closed Circuit Oxygen Underwater Breathing Apparatus". Royal Australian Navy, School of Underwater Medicine. RANSUM-1-70. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Lonsdale, Mark V. (2012). "Evolution of us navy diving". History of Navy Diving. Northwest Diving History Association. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  41. ^ Edmonds, Carl; Lowry, C; Pennefather, John. "History of diving". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 5 (2). Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  42. ^ "» Le scaphandre à casque de Joseph Martin Cabirol".
  43. ^ Bevan, John (1990). "The First Demand Valve?" (PDF). SPUMS Journal. 20 (4): 239–240.Reprinted from Diver (U.K. magazine) of February 1989
  44. ^ Staff. "Le scaphandre autonome" (in French). Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2017. Un brevet semblable est déposé en 1838 par William Newton en Angleterre. Il y a tout lieu de penser que Guillaumet, devant les longs délais de dépôt des brevets en France, a demandé à Newton de faire enregistrer son brevet en Angleterre où la procédure est plus rapide, tout en s'assurant les droits exclusifs d'exploitation sur le brevet déposé par Newton. (A similar patent was filed in 1838 by William Newton in England. There is every reason to think that owing to the long delays in filing patents in France, Guillaumet asked Newton to register his patent in England where the procedure was faster, while ensuring the exclusive rights to exploit the patent filed by Newton.)
  45. ^ On November 14, 1838, Dr. Manuel Théodore Guillaumet of Argentan, Normandy, France, filed a patent for a twinhose demand regulator; the diver was provided air through pipes from the surface. The apparatus was demonstrated to, and investigated by, a committee of the French Academy of Sciences: "Mèchanique appliquée – Rapport sur une cloche à plongeur inventée par M. Guillaumet" (Applied mechanics – Report on a diving bell invented by Mr. Guillaumet), Comptes rendus, vol. 9, pages 363-366 (September 16, 1839).
  46. ^ Also from "le scaphandre autonome" Web site: "Reconstruit au XXe siècle par les Américains, ce détendeur fonctionne parfaitement, mais, si sa réalisation fut sans doute effective au XIXe, les essais programmés par la Marine Nationale ne furent jamais réalisés et l'appareil jamais commercialisé." (Reconstructed in twentieth century by the Americans, this regulator worked perfectly; however, although it was undoubtedly effective in the nineteenth century, the test programs by the French Navy were never conducted and the apparatus was never sold.)
  47. ^ Illustration of diving apparatus invented by Dr. Manuel Théodore Guillaumet from: Alain Perrier, 250 Réponses aux questions du plongeur curieux [250 Answers to the questions of the curious diver] (Aix-en-Provence, France: Éditions du Gerfaut, 2008), page 45.
  48. ^ Description of the Rouquayrol-Denayrouze apparatus in the Musée du Scaphandre website (a diving museum in Espalion, south of France) Archived 2011-06-30 at the Wayback Machine
  49. ^ Acott, Chris (June 1999). "A BRIEF HISTORY OF DIVING AND DECOMPRESSION ILLNESS" (PDF). SPUMS Journal. 29: 5. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  50. ^ a b Butler WP (2004). "Caisson disease during the construction of the Eads and Brooklyn Bridges: A review". Undersea Hyperb Med. 31 (4): 445–59. PMID 15686275. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  51. ^ Bert, P. (1943) [1878]. "Barometric Pressure: researches in experimental physiology". Translated By: Hitchcock MA and Hitchcock FA. College Book Company.
  52. ^ Paine, Lincoln P. (2000-01-01). Warships of the World to 1900. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0395984147.
  53. ^ Staff. "oxylithe". Dictionaires de francaise Larousse (in French). Editions Larousse. Retrieved 10 February 2017. Mélange de peroxydes de sodium et de potassium, avec un peu de sels de cuivre ou de nickel, qui, en présence d'eau, dégage de l'oxygène
  54. ^ Boycott, A. E.; G. C. C. Damant; J. S. Haldane (1908). "Prevention of compressed air illness". J. Hygiene. 8 (3): 342–443. doi:10.1017/S0022172400003399. PMC 2167126. PMID 20474365. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
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  56. ^ FR patent F443802, Maurice Fernez, "Appareil respiratoire pour séjourner sous l'eau ou dans des milieux irrespirables", published 1912-09-03., issued 1912-07-22 
  57. ^ Drägerwerk dedicated page in Divingheritage.com.
  58. ^ a b Alain Perrier, 250 réponses aux questions du plongeur curieux, Éditions du Gerfaut, Paris, 2008, ISBN 978-2-35191-033-7 (p.65, in French)
  59. ^ Staff. Key to the treasury of the deep: Ohgushi's Peerless Respirators - Unrivalled in the world (PDF). Tokyo: Tokyo submarine industrial company. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016. Copy of an original users'manual by the manufacturers.
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  61. ^ Historical Diving Society magazine issue 45, page 43
  62. ^ In the 1950s capitaine de frégate (Commander) Philippe Tailliez still was thinking that De Corlieu conceived his fins for the first time in 1924 (in fact he's started ten years earlier). See page 14 in Capitaine de frégate PHILIPPE TAILLIEZ, Plongées sans câble, Arthaud, Paris, January 1954, Dépôt légal 1er trimestre 1954 - Édition N° 605 - Impression N° 243 (in French)
  63. ^ A study research about Maurice Fernez's apparatuses (free translated to Italian from original French and English texts). Archived 2012-03-24 at the Wayback Machine
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External links[edit]

There are other diving history chronologies at: