A Brief History of Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is a rewarding hobby, pastime, and even profession for millions of people throughout the globe. However, the state of scuba diving today would have never been possible without decades of innovation through trial and error. Indeed, the work we do and the passion we share at Bahama Divers wouldn’t have become what it is today if it were not for these forebearers. Keep reading to learn a little bit about the storied and intricate history of the practice of scuba diving.
To be considered scuba diving, the user must have independence from the surface during use. The following inventors and scientists toiled endlessly to develop the technologies that would eventually transform scuba diving into what it is today:
- John Lethbridge invented an underwater diving machine in 1715 that carried its air supply in the machine. This machine relied on tethers to the surface, so it operated more like a diving bell than an autonomous scuba diving apparatus.
- Sieur Freminet created an outfit that allowed its users to drag a reservoir of air behind them or on their back. He named his device the machine hydrostatergatique and was able to use it successfully for ten years.
- William James designed a suit with a helmet made from copper and leather that included air supplied in an iron reservoir.
- Sieur Touboulic patented the first known oxygen rebreather, but researchers have yet to come across any sign that a prototype was ever manufactured.
- Manuel Theodore Guillaumet patented the first known regulator mechanism. However, it was never mass produced due to unaddressed safety concerns.
All these advancements led to the development of two different types of breathing systems going forward: the open and closed-circuit systems.
In an open circuit system, the breath that the diver exhales is released into the water. In a closed-circuit system, the exhaled breath is filtered from remaining oxygen and recirculated.
Open Circuit Technology
These were the first systems that were commonly marketed toward recreational divers because of their ease of operation, lack of safety risks, and relative affordability. A development that made this kind of system possible was that of the demand regulator, which supplies oxygen on demand when the diver inhales.
Closed Circuit Technology
The first system of this kind was developed in 1878 by Henry Fleuss. It impressively allowed divers to stay underwater for three hours. Fleuss’ technology was continually improved upon for decades afterward.
Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jackets
The next major advancement in scuba diving technology was the invention of the adjustable buoyancy life jacket. Before this device, if there was a problem underwater, then divers had to release their weights in order to come up to the surface quickly. This development allowed divers to compensate for the loss of buoyancy that is experienced deep below the surface, making diving much safer.
Before dive computers, divers had to rely on decompression tables to know how to safely ascend back up to the surface. However, this method was difficult and time-consuming, thus leading to the inception of the dive computer. This technology helped to calculate the best method of ascension so that divers did not encounter the bends or other pressure-related problems.
Scuba Diving Today
Scuba diving has been widely expanded throughout the world and is constantly gaining new technologies and advancements. Now, anyone who wants to learn how to scuba dive can do so with a bit of training and dedication. Over time, the equipment and classes involved to acquire scuba diving certification have become much more accessible and widespread.
Don’t forget that if you want to get in on the action, we will be more than happy to help! At Bahama Divers, we offer a range of scuba diving packages, so you are sure to find the right one for you and yours. It is never too late to give this amazing activity a try. Thanks to the amazing history described above, scuba diving is now much safer and more accessible for marine enthusiasts all over the world.