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Discussion in 'General Scuba Diving' started by madmark1, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. madmark1

    madmark1 Member

    Oct 26, 2009
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    History of Scuba


    What does SCUBA stand for?

    It is an acronym that stands for "Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus", because the divers carry their own supply of air.

    The timeline of underwater technology

    Several centuries BC: (Relief carvings made at this time show Assyrian soldiers crossing rivers using inflated goatskin floats. Several modern authors have wrongly said that the floats were crude breathing sets and that they show frogmen in action.)

    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 surfaced at night and 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.

    1300 or earlier: Persian divers were using diving goggles with windows made of the polished outer layer of tortoiseshell.

    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 due to what he described as "bad human nature", that would have taken advantage of this technique to sink ships and even commit murders. 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, too.

    1531: Guglielmo de Lorena dives on two of Caligula's sunken galleys using a diving bell from a design by Leonardo da Vinci.

    Around 1620: Cornelius Drebbel may have made a crude rebreather: see Rebreather#History of rebreathers.

    1772: Sieur Freminet tried to build a scuba device out of a barrel, but died from lack of oxygen after 20 minutes, as he merely recycled the exhaled air untreated.

    1776: David Brushnell invented the Turtle, first submarine to attack another ship. It was used in the American Revolution.

    19th century
    1800: Robert Fulton builds a submarine, the "Nautilus"

    1825: William H. James designs a self contained diving suit that had compressed air in an iron container worn around the waist.

    Diving helmets appear
    1829: Charles and John Deane of Whitstable in Kent in England designed the first air-pumped diving helmet. It is said 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.

    1829: 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 helmet was open. The helmet was 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-bolts equipment".

    1837: Following up Leonardo's studies, and those of Halley the astronomer, Augustus Siebe developed standard diving dress, a sort of surface supplied diving apparatus.

    Around 1842: The Frenchman Joseph Cabirol started making standard diving dress.

    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.

    1860: Ivan Lupis-Vukic, a retired engineer of the Austro-Hungarian navy, demonstrated a design for a self-propelled torpedo to emperor Franz Joseph.

    1863: CSS Hunley was the first submarine to sink a ship, the USS Housatonic, during American Civil War.

    The first diving regulator
    1865: Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze designed a diving set with a backpack spherical air tank that supplied air through the first known demand regulator. The diver still walked on the seabed and did not swim. This set was called an aérophore (Greek for "air-carrier"). But air pressure tanks made with the technology of the time could only hold 30 atmospheres, and the diver had to be surface supplied; the tank was for bailout. The durations of 6 to 8 hours on a tankful without external supply recorded for the Rouquayrol set in the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, are wildly exaggerated fiction. Judging by Jules Verne's inaccurate attempts in the book at describing how the Rouquayrol set worked, how the demand regulator works was not generally known or had already been forgotten when he wrote the book, which was published in 1870. But Jules Verne knew about the tendency of some divers surfacing into rain to want to stay underwater to keep out of the rain.

    1866: Minenschiff, the first self-propelled (locomotive) torpedo, developed by Robert Whitehead (to a design by Captain Lupius, Austrian Navy), demonstrated for the imperial naval commission on 21 December.

    Gas and air cylinders appear
    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 1939.

    1879: The first certainly known rebreather (its absorbent was caustic soda), was invented by Henry Fluess in 1879 to rescue mineworkers who were trapped by water.

    1893: Louis Boutan invented the first underwater camera.

    1900: John P. Holland builds the first successful submarine, Holland (also called A-1).

    1908: John Haldane, Arthur Boycott, and Guybon Damant published "The Prevention of Compressed-Air Illness", detailed studies on the cause and symptoms of decompression sickness.

    1912: Haldane, Boycott and Damant published the U.S. Navy tested decompression tables.


    Swim-diving starts
    The 1930's: In France, Guy Gilpatrick started swim-diving with waterproof goggles, derived from swimming goggles (which were originally intended to keep salt water out of the eyes at the surface). Sport spearfishing became common in the Mediterranean, and spearfishers gradually developed the common sport diving mask and fins and snorkel, and Italian sport spearfishers started using oxygen rebreathers. This practice came to the attention of the Italian Navy, which developed its frogman unit which had a big effect in World War II.

    1933: In France, Louis de Corlieu patented the first swimming fins.

    In San Diego (USA) the first sport diving club started, called the Bottom Scratchers. It did not use breathing sets as far as is known. Its main aim was spearfishing.

    Yves Le Prieur invented a 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; this would have caused an awkward skew drag in swimming.

    1934: In France a sport diving club started, called the Club des Sous-l'Eau. It did not use breathing sets as far as is known. Its main aim was spearfishing.

    1934: Otis Barton and William Beebe dived to 3028 feet using a bathysphere.

    1935: The French Navy adopted the Le Prieur breathing set.

    1936: On the French Riviera the first known sport scuba diving club started. It used Le Prieur's breathing sets.

    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.

    The diving regulator reappears
    1937 Georges Commeinhes developed a two-cylinder open-circuit apparatus with demand regulator. The regulator was a big rectangular box between the cylinders. Some were made, but WWII interrupted development.

    1939: Georges Commeinhes offered his breathing set to the French Navy, which could not continue developing uses for it because of WWII. In July 1943 he reached 53 meters (about 174 feet) using it off the coast of Marseille. But he died in 1944 in the liberation of Strasbourg in Alsace. His invention was submerged by Cousteau's invention.

    Dr. Christian Lambertsen in the USA designed a 'Self-Contained Underwater Oxygen Breathing Apparatus' for the U.S. military. It was a rebreather. It was the first device to be called SCUBA.

    World War II began.

    1941 to 1945: During WWII, various nations used frogmen equipped with rebreathers for some of the best known and most spectacular war actions: see Human torpedo.

    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.

    1943: Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan invented and made an open-circuit diving breathing set, using a demand regulator which Gagnan modified from a demand regulator used to let a petrol-driven car run on a big bag of coal-gas carried on its roof during wartime shortages of petrol. Cousteau had his first dives with it. He made two more aqualungs: there were now 3, one each for Cousteau and his first two diving companions Frédéric Dumas and Taillez. His aqualung remained a secret until the south of France was liberated. This type of breathing set was later named the "Aqua-Lung". 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 1950's, including in the BSAC's publications and training manuals, and describing scuba diving as "aqualunging".

    1944 October: Frédéric Dumas reached 62 meters (about 200 feet) with a Cousteau aqualung.

    1945: World War II ended. Cousteau's first aqualung was destroyed by a mis-aimed artillery shell in an Allied landing on the French Riviera: that left two. Afterwards, he had more aqualungs made and gathered more men and taught them to aqualung dive. In Toulon he started an unofficial mine-clearing and wreck-clearing unit. Later this unit was made official. One of the men who he trained was Broussard, who founded the first post-WWII scuba diving club, the Club Alpin Sous-Marin.

    Among the war news, the world's public heard about frogmen.

    1946: Cousteau-type aqualungs went on sale in France.

    1946: Yves Le Prieur invented a new version of his breathing set. Its fullface mask's front place 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.

    1948: Auguste Piccard sends the first bathyscaphe, FNRS-2, on unmanned dives.

    Siebe Gorman and/or Heinke started making Cousteau-type aqualungs in England. Captain Trevor Hampton had a dive with one.

    Ted Eldred in Australia started designing the first open-circuit single-hose scuba set known: see Porpoise (make of scuba gear).

    1948 or 1949: Rene's Sporting Goods shop in California imports aqualungs from France. Hollywood sees them and gets interested.

    1950: Cousteau-type aqualungs went on sale (but very expensive) to industry and civilians in Britain. Siebe Gorman made it at Chessington.

    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.

    A report to Cousteau said that only 10 aqualung sets had been sent to the USA because the market there was saturated.

    1951: The movie "The Frogmen" was released. It is 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 USA in 1951.

    1951 December: The first issue of Skin Diver Magazine (USA) appeared. The magazine ran until November 2002.

    Cousteau-type aqualungs went on sale in Canada.

    1952: Cousteau-type aqualungs went on sale in the USA.

    Ted Eldred in Australia started making for public sale the Porpoise (make of scuba gear).

    Public interest in scuba diving takes off
    1953: The National Geographical Society Magazine published an article about Cousteau's underwater archaeology at Grand Congloué island near Marseille, and in French-speaking countries a diving film called Épaves (Shipwrecks) came out. That started a massive public demand for aqualungs and diving gear, and in France and America the diving gear makers started making them as fast as they could. But in Britain Siebe Gorman and Heinke kept aqualungs expensive, and restrictions on exporting currency stopped people from importing them. Many British sport divers used home-made constant-flow breathing sets and ex-armed forces or ex-industrial rebreathers.

    In those times, free-swimming diving suits were not readily available to the general public, after the first rush of war-surplus frogman's drysuits ran out, and as a result many scuba divers dived in swimming trunks. That is why scuba diving used often to be called skindiving. Others dived in home-made drysuits, or in thick layers of ordinary clothes.

    After the supply of war-surplus frogman's fins dried up, for a long time fins were not available to the public, and some had to resort to such things as gluing marine ply to plimsoles.

    Captain Trevor Hampton founded the British Underwater Centre at Dartmouth in Devon in England.

    Rene's Sporting Goods shop (now owned by Spirotechnique) became U.S.Divers, which is now a leading maker of diving equipment.

    1953 October 15: The BSAC was founded.

    1954: USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, is launched.

    The first manned dives in the bathyscaphe FNRS-2.

    First scuba certification course in the USA offered by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

    1956: The first wetsuit was introduced.

    Around this time some British scuba divers started making home-made diving demand regulators from industrial parts including Calor Gas regulators. (Since then, Calor Gas regulators have been redesigned, and this conversion is now impossible.) See Diving_regulator#Twin-hose, home-made.

    Later, Submarine Products Ltd in Hexham in Northumberland, England designed round the Cousteau-Gagnan patent and made sport diving breathing sets accessibly cheap. This forced Siebe Gorman's and Heinke's prices down and started them selling to the sport diving trade. (Siebe Gorman gave its drysuit the tradename "Frogman".) Because of this better availability of aqualungs, BSAC's policy towards rebreathers became merely "Here be dragons: keep out!" and remained so for a long time. In the USA some oxygen diving clubs developed down the years. Eventually the Cousteau-Gagnan patent time-expired and any firm could legally copy it.

    1957: The television series Sea Hunt began. It introduced SCUBA diving to the television audience. It ran until 1961.

    1958: USS Nautilus completed the first ever voyage under the polar ice to the North Pole and back.

    1959: NAUI is founded.

    1960: Jacques Piccard and Lieutenant Don Walsh, USN, descended to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the ocean (about 10900m or 35802 feet = 6.78 miles) in the bathyscaphe Trieste: see at this link and this link

    USS Triton completed the first ever underwater circumnavigation of the world.

    In Italy, sport diving oxygen rebreathers continued to be made well into the 1960's.

    1965: The film version of James Bond in Thunderball (using both sorts of open-circuit scuba) came out and helped to make scuba diving popular.

    1966: PADI starts.

    1968: First known rebreather with electronic parts: the Electrolung.

    1971: Scubapro introduces the Stabilization Jacket, now in England commonly called stab jacket.

    1972: Scubapro introduces the decompression meter (the first analogic dive computer).

    1983: The Orca Edge (the first electronic dive computer) was introduced.

    1985: The wreck of RMS Titanic was found.

    1989: The film The Abyss (including an as-yet-fictional deep-sea liquid-breathing set) helped to make scuba diving popular.

    The Communist Bloc fell and the Cold War ended. After that, the world's armed forces had less reason to requisition rebreather patents submitted by civilians, and sport diving automatic and semi-automatic mixture rebreathers started to appear. See "rebreather history" link below.

    1997: The film Titanic helped to make underwater trips onboard MIR submersible vehicles popular.

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