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.

1900
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

Photo of 2003 - Leonard Hill, the first to test proper decompression in the middle with 2 divers

Leonard Erskine Hill theorized and tested the first continuous decompression

Around 1900, Leonard Erskine Hill theorized that recompression could be used to treat decompression sickness and slow decompression would prevent compressed air illnesses. He wrote the first slow continuous decompression tables. He used this method..More about

1899
Photo taken in 1899 by Louis Boutan in Banyuls-sur-mer, France of oceanographer and biologist Emil Racovita

The first underwater photograph

It was in 1899 that Louis Boutan made the first underwater photos. He invented the first underwater camera.

1882
Photo of Atmospheric Diving Suit ADS from Carmagnolle brothers 1882 - Musée national de la Marine, Paris, France

The first ADS or atmospheric diving suit

Two French brothers, Alphonse and Théodore Carmagnolle patented, in 1882, the first design of an atmospheric diving suit or ADS. The helmet featured 25 small glass viewing ports of 51mm/2-inch. The body was articulated with the..More about

1878
Photo of Henry Fleuss wearing an oxygen rebreather in 1878

The first reliable oxygen rebreather developed by Henry Fleuss

The first reliable oxygen rebreather was developed in 1878 by Henry Fleuss, an English seaman. Year at which he obtained a patent for a closed circuit system that used a tank of compress oxygen and..More about

1876
Image from R. H. W. Dunlop US Patent No. 183045 Swimming aids and fins

The first flexible fins patented by R. H. W. Dunlop

In 1876, Robert Henry Wallace Dunlop filed a patent for improved fins. In the new design, hands and foot pockets were added. It also represented the first multi material flexible fin. The blade of the..More about

1866
Benoit Rouquayrol US Patent No US59529

Rouquayrol file a patent in the US

In 1866, Benoit Rouquayrol patented his invention with the US Patent Office. It is filed under Improvement in regulating the flow of gases in apparatus for diving. It is described as to regulate the flow..More about

1844
The first military diving school of the Royal Navy

The first military diving school of the Royal Navy

Based on lessons learned from the Royal George salvage Colonel Pasley persuaded the Royal Navy of the advantages of Siebe’s diving equipment over the unwieldy dockyard diving bell, Colonel Pasley detached Lance Corporal Jones, Royal..More about

1836
1836 Book Cover Method of using Deane's patent diving apparatus

The first diving manual written by Charles Deane

In 1836, Charles Anthony Deane wrote and published the first diving manual. In the manual he explains the use of his diving apparatus. Warning readers about copies of it that could be dangerous and unwarranted...More about

1831
Mechanics' Magazine 1835 Condert scuba

Charles Condert builds the first scuba set

Charles Condert, an American engineer, developed in 1831, the first type of real scuba or Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. The air was pumped into a horseshoe-shaped copper tube wrapped around the body of the..More about

1808
Description of the diving machine from Sir Touboulic 17th June, 1808

Sieur Touboulic patent the “Ichtisandre” the first oxygen diving suit

On June 17th, 1808, Sir Touboulic, a mechanic in Napoleon’s Imperial Navy filed a patent for a diving machine. There is no evidence of any prototype built and test conducted. The invention he called the..More about

1797
Klingert Diving machine 1797

The diving machine of Klingert

In 1797, Karl Heinrich Klingert from Wrocław, Poland, designed a machine that would allow humans to venture underwater. It was composed of a copper helmet connected with a leather shirt to a large metal belt..More about

1774

First recorded death in an accident with a submarine

Sadly on June 22, 1774, John Day, a carpenter and wheelwright became the first recorded death in a submersible. A bet between Day and Christopher Blake, who noticed his submarines before, was the trigger to..More about

1760
Boyle demonstrate unknowingly the theory of decompression sickness

Boyle demonstrate unknowingly the theory of decompression sickness

Robert Boyle, using a viper under vacuum noted for the first time the formation of bubbles in living tissues. This is from the lowering ambient pressure that forces gas out of the tissues. This discovery..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.