Scuba Diving

The Origins of SCUBA

November 14, 2015

scuba stuffExploring the depths of water around the world has always intrigued mankind. And though successful attempts at breathing while under water took place in the late 1800s, SCUBA diving really began to come of age during and right after World War II.

The term has fallen into generic use, but SCUBA is actually an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. During WWII, teams of military underwater demolition divers were sent under the waves to place or clear mines in shipping lanes, blow up ships and conduct search and rescue missions. This type of diving was, of course, very serious-minded, and the number of people who had training and access to the right equipment made this an exclusive group.

After the war, however, this intriguing water activity appealed to a larger group of people, such as spearfishers, photographers, researchers and emergency responders, among others. And through television’s Sea Hunt program and the explorations of Jacques Cousteau, eventually, SCUBA diving was viewed as a more fun, recreational water sport, but training still mainly consisted of buddy-to-buddy sessions.

Formal certification training really took hold in the 1960s, though SCUBA diving remained a mostly male activity. But in the 1970s, as more companies became manufacturers of equipment and advances came rapidly, SCUBA diving shifted from being a sport for the healthy and fit to being one for people of all ages and abilities.

Prior the boom, much of the equipment was homemade: Clorox bottles were used for buoyancy, spearguns were cobbled together in garages, early headlamps were actually motorcycle headlights, regulators were made from parts used in other professions (such as firefighting equipment).

Bill Jackson’s conducts instructional classes for SCUBA diving that can get a participant certified for open-water diving in just four weeks. If exploring the sport of SCUBA diving is something that interests you, check out our next “Try SCUBA” class, or contact our Dive Shop at 727-576-4169.