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Diving History

Indian Fishing

Talking about diving history we have to start long time ago and study our ancestors and find the motive that push then to discover this amazing world.

Since the beginning, the human kind noticed that staying close to water was important for them to survive. And the desire to go under water to supply food, uncover artifacts, and perhaps just to observe marine life has always existed.

When did man started diving?

We started diving at least 6500 years ago and soon the food was out our reach, there was a desire to go deeper and divers trained from childhood for lung capacity and endurance.

Staying under water longer the natural way was impossible, so the concept of diving was abandoned, Or not mentioned in history until recovering goods from sunken ships became a desperate motive to start developing new ideas that will change the diving history.

Apnea Diver

Desperate reason and new ideas for diving.

The diving bell is one of the earliest types of equipment for underwater work and exploration in diving history. Its use was first described by Aristotle "...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".

Even that was mentioned by Aristotle in 4th century BC, only in 1535, Guglielmo de Lorema created and used what is considered to be the first diving bell.

How divers used the diving bell?

The divers went out from the diving bell with their breath held, to do some work under water. After they were out of breath, instead of ascending to the surface, they returned to the bell where they inhaled fresh air and return to work. When the air was finished, the bell had to resurface.

In 1691 - Edmund Halley patented a diving bell method in which air pressure provided from the surface in barrels kept the diving bell for longer periods of time.

Diving Bell Diving Bell with Barrels Diving Bell

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Wanha Lord suit

Wanha Lord suit.
Image from Raahe museum

Diver Working Diving Helmet Diving Dress

From the diving bell to the diving suit

Wanha Lord is the world's oldest surviving diving suit. It is made of calfskin and it is the most precious item of the maritime Raahe Museum in Finland, and although the origin is unknown it is believe that the design was use back in the 1700s. The item at the museum was donated in 1860.

Augustus Siebe, a German-born British engineer, developed the first workable diving suit about 1839. This waterproof suit had a detachable helmet connected to the surface by a hose through which air was pumped. This kind of tethered suit remained the most practicable diving dress until the 1900s.

FMIB 49984 Divers dressed in the Apparatus Invented by MM Rouquayrol and Denayrouze
WIKIMEDIA a photograph from the Freshwater and Marine Image Bank at the University of Washington

Mining industry helping the diving industry

Due to mining accidents from firedamp and asphyxiation in the 1800s, the technology of the diving helmet was improve for mining rescues by Benoît Rouquayrol in 1860. Later in 1864 Rouquayrol partnered with August Denayrouze to make the new devise for underwater use and was presented on the 1867 World's Fair international exposition in Paris.

Jules Verne a French novelist noticed the Rouquayrol-Denayrouze diving suit and implemented the idea for his famous 1869 novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

1900's to modern diving era

Maurice Fernez French inventor continued adapting the diving suits and by 1912 his idea and concept was no longer using the heavy diving helmet; instead a mouthpiece at the end of the tube provided air for the diver that had a clamp for the nose and goggles for the eyes.
Yves Le Prieur another French inventor noticed Fernez diving suit and propose the use of a cylinder for more autonomous movement underwater. Yves Le Prieur with his idea invented the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus – now a days, SCUBA.

Jacques-Yves_Cousteau Emile-Gagnan Aqualung
In 1943, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Émile Gagnan, two Frenchmen adapted a previously developed breathing apparatus to underwater use. Their improvement was named the "aqualung, and was a great and revolutionary invention in diving history. The Aqualung remained a secret until the South of France was liberated from Germany at the end of World War II.

Today the diving history keeps writing it self, thousand of new scuba divers are certified worldwide, new scuba equipment has transformed the industry and made diving not only more safe, but more comfortable and accessible to everyone.

Scuba diving has transformed into a big business, because everybody wants to explore the wonderful underwater world and in North America alone, recreational diving is becoming a multi-billion dollar industry.

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