Diving history from Renaissance to the present time

Most of the history of diving take place after the 14th century as many discoveries were made. Several ambitious inventors presented and demonstrated their machines, apparatus, and devices. General knowledge of many aspects of diving increased with a better understanding of physics, mathematics, physiology. Crafting became more advanced and industrialized and new materials became available.

1946
Logo of the Cave Diving Group - CDG

The CDG or Cave Diving Group, the world’s oldest continuing diving club

The CDG started not so long after April 1946 when Balcombe and Sheppard dedicated their time at Ogof Ffynnon Ddu in South Wales. They started recruiting others cave divers after being unsuccessful at pushing further in..More about

Photo of Aqua-Lung or CG45 La Spirotechnique 1945

The Aqua-lung regulator set commercialized by La Spirotechnique

Mass production of Aqua-Lung double hose regulators started in 1946 with La Spirotechnique, a branch of the Air Liquide company. Their first model the CG-45 was named after Cousteau and Gagnan and the number 45..More about

1939
Rescue and salvage of the Squalus submarine in 1939

The first operational dive using helium-oxygen or Heliox

On May 27, 1939, Owen P. Churchill made the first operational helium-oxygen or Heliox dive. The rescue and salvage of the submarine Squalus has been one of the greatest achievement in diving. 33 people were evacuated..More about

1937
Commeinhes diving apparatus patent drawings

Georges Commeinhes patent the first demand regulator on an open-circuit set

In 1937, Georges Commeinhes son of René adapted the breathing apparatus from his father for underwater uses. It was in the form of a two-cylinder open-circuit and had a demand valve regulator hooked to a..More about

1934
Photo of young Georges Beuchat

Georges Beuchat opens the first underwater activities equipment manufacturer

It was in 1934, in Marseilles, France that Beuchat, the world’s first equipment manufacturing company for underwater activities opened its doors. Because 24 years Georges Beuchat was a spear fishing enthusiast, he invented, designed and tested..More about

1926
Photo of Yves Le Prieur coming out of a pool equipped with a Fernez-Le Prieur scuba

The “Fernez-Le Prieur” is the first european made scuba

In 1926 at the swimming pool of Tourelles in Paris, the “Fernez-Le Prieur”, the  European made scuba or self-contained underwater breathing apparatus was first demonstrated. The set was composed of a compressed air cylinder carried on..More about

1924
Joel Henry Hildebrand

Research on helium oxygen breathing mixtures starts

It was in the year 1924 that research on helium oxygen mixtures as a breathing gas really started. Tests were conducted in laboratory on animals by the chemist Joel Henry Hildebrand with R. R. Sayers..More about

1916
Photo of Ohgushi Peerless Respirator from 1918

The “Ohgushi’s Peerless Respirator”, the first scuba

In 1916, Japan, Riichi Watanabi and the blacksmith Kinzo Ohgushi invented the first scuba, the “Ohgushi’s Peerless Respirator. It could be used as a surfaced supplied unit or from steel cylinders filled with compressed air...More about

1914
Louis de Corlieu with fins and hand paddles

Louis de Corlieu demonstrate his fins to the French Navy

In 1914, Frenchman Louis de Corlieu made the first public demonstrations of his fins or “propulseurs de nage” as he called them. Being capitaine de corvette (Lieutenant Commander) in the French Navy, he wanted to..More about

1908
1910 Portrait photo of John Scott Haldane

Haldane and the first staged decompression tables

In 1908, The Prevention of Compressed-air Illness published by John Scott Haldane, Arthur Boycott and Guybon Damant covers the detailed studies of Leonard Hill and their own on the cause and symptoms of decompression sickness. The publication..More about

1908 Haldane's Decompression table I in ft and psi

First decompression tables released to the public

Haldane tables were adopted by the Admiralty Deep Diving committee of the Royal Navy after his report in 1908. It was also decided that they would be published and released to the public.

1907
Haldane build the first compression chamber

Haldane build the first compression chamber

It was in the year 1907 that Haldane build the first decompression chamber, aimed to help with the safety of deep-sea divers by allowing him to test his theories. In the next year, after experimenting extensively..More about

1900
USS Holland The first commissioned submarine

USS Holland The first commissioned submarine

On the 12th of October 1900, The USS Holland (SS-1) became the first commissioned submarine. Build by John Philip Holland in the earlier years, then named Holland VI was the 6th iteration of the design..More about

The first underwater photography book

The first underwater photography book

The first underwater photography book, “La photographie sous-marine et les progrès de la photographie” was published in 1900. The name translated as The Underwater Photography and the Advances in Photography was the first to cover..More about

Because of the hostile environment and the physiological limits of humans, progress in diving has slowed down. Even in the age of electronics, computers, wireless and miniaturization, the ocean remains the least explored places on earth. For regular divers, we can say that more people have walked on the moon than venturing deeper than 300 meters.

This timeline will take you through many and most of the important moments in the history of diving. Great people invented equipment, others were doing research in decompression theory. Some are important achievements, some ended in tragic ways. But they all made diving possible in the way we know it today.