Scuba Diving Equipment – A brief Historical Timeline

Today, Scuba diving is used by researchers and scientists, military personnel, and adventurous civilians seeking a challenging hobby.  With standard safety procedures, technological advanced equipment, and a structured tutoring system, every averagely healthy person can decide to undergo certification and become a scuba diver. We want to take a peek into the past of this interesting art and sport. Try to see where and how it started. The changes, alterations, and modifications that have influenced the evolution of Scuba driving from inception to its present form. Seat belt on; all systems go. Let’s do a little scuba diving time travel.

Scuba can’t be dissociated from diving; so we’ll dive down the diving alley first (no pun intended):

Pre-historic times: Man went under water to source for fish, coral, and other aquatic nutrition. The earliest diving equipment used were heavy stones to enhance a quick descent into water.

4th Century BC- Aristotle described the use of a diving bell.

16th and 17th century- Development of the diving bell to provide mechanical support for diving.

1535- Guglielmo de Lorena made the first documented use of a diving bell for an expedition on Lake Nemi

1616- Franz Kessler developed a better diving bell

1691- Dr Edmond Halley developed an even more advanced diving bell with windows that could last for 4 hours at 60 ft. under water

1775- Charles Spalding improved on Dr Halley’s design

Between this period and the development of Self-contained, there was the advent of surface supplied diving suits which would allow divers to go underwater but get a supply of breathable air pumped in from the surface. Sorry to burst your bubbles (well, we’re talking about water anyways) but we won’t be covering that part here (don’t be lazy do some extra reading up). Our focus is on SCUBA- Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus and we shall proceed to that right away.

1771- French Man Sieur Fréminet designed and built a diving suit that featured a compressed air reservoir. It was named machine hydrostatergatique

1824- Another Frenchman Paul Lemaire d’Augerville constructed a stand-alone diving equipment which he used

1825- Englishman William H. James also built an autonomous diving equipment which got its air supply from an iron reservoir.

1831- Charles Condert an American designed a system quite like those of James and d’Augerville. It, however, failed him and led to his death in 1832 at a depth of 20 ft.

1838- Manuel Théodore Guillaumet invented a regulator system for use in diving equipment although his air supply was from the surface.

1864- Auguste Denayrouze and Benoit Rouquayrol designed a demand regulator which allowed divers to vary the air flow depending on their requirements. This was, however, also surface supplied.

1925- Yves Le Prieur- obviously a Frenchman- built the first open-circuit scuba diving equipment. He perfected the design in 1933 with the introduction of a full-face mask which was consistently supplied with air from a cylinder

1942- The Aqua-Lung open circuit scuba system was designed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Émile Gagnan

The now popular closed – circuit scuba system was developed almost simultaneously alongside the open circuit system with Henry Fleuss developing the first commercial version in 1878 with an upgrade by Sir Robert Davies in 1910. Finally, Christian Lambertsen developed the Lambertsen Amphibious Respirator Unit oxygen rebreather in 1939.




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