Diving Timeline 2018-02-18T20:55:08+00:00

Man has been exploring the sea from the beginning of time, first in the search for food and then to undertake commercial and military exploits. Until the invention of the diving bell, men held their breath and dove upwards of 30 m (100 ft) often several times per day, sometimes never to return to the surface. Early evidence of breath-hold diving is found in drawings, ornaments and other artifacts made from mother-of-pearl and other seashells. Much of this historical evidence connects man to the sea as far back as 4,000 BCE and earlier.

This timeline is a chronological overview of the key events that have marked the evolution of diving. Topics covered include equipment development, exploration, science, underwater warfare, depth milestones, freediving, photography and cinematography.

The historical images presented in the preceding banner mark significant milestones in the development of the diving community and industry. If you can’t name them all, click here to view related entries.

 The Diving Almanac’s Historical Timeline is a work in progress with more events being converted into individual entries on an ongoing basis.
Have you discovered a mistake? Discrepancies are frequently found with names, dates and places while researching historical data. If you find errors or if you would like to suggest historical events for consideration in the next update, please contact us so that we may make corrections or updates. Thank you.

2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010
2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000

1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 | 1990
1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1986 | 1985 | 1984 | 1983 | 1982 | 1981 | 1980
1979 | 1978 | 1977 | 1976 | 1975 | 1974 | 1973 | 1972 | 1971 | 1970
1969 | 1968 | 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | 1960
1959 | 1958 | 1957 | 1956 | 1955 | 1954 | 1953 | 1952 | 1951 | 1950
1949 | 1948 | 1947 | 1946 | 1945 | 1944 | 1943 | 1942 | 1941 | 1940
1939 | 1938 | 1937 | 1936 | 1935 | 1934 | 1933 | 1932 | 1931 | 1930
1929 | 1928 | 1927 | 1926 | 1925 | 1924 | 1923 | 1922 | 1921 | 1920
1919 | 1918 | 1917 | 1916 | 1915 | 1914 | 1913 | 1912 | 1911 | 1910
1909 | 1908 | 1907 | 1906 | 1905 | 1904 | 1903 | 1902 | 1901 | 1900

1893 | 1888 | 1882 | 1878 | 1873 | 1872 | 1870 | 1869 | 1867 | 1866
1864 | 18601856 | 1844 | 1843 | 1840 | 1839 | 1838 | 1831 | 1829
1828 | 1825 | 1823 | 1812 | 1808 | 1800 | 1788 | 1787 | 1775 | 1773
1771 | 17201715 | 1690 | 1689 | 1687 | 1681 | 1680 | 1642 | 1626
1620 | 1616 | 1597 | 1578 | 1551 | 1535 | 1500

  • Scuba Educators International is founded to continue the defunct YMCA Scuba Program.
  • SSI is acquired by Doug McNeese and Robert Stoss.
  • AIDA Canada is founded.
  • EUROTEK (European Advanced and Technical Diving Conference) is founded.
  • Poseidon launches the world’s first fully automatic recreational rebreather, the Poseidon MKVI.

  • Francisco “Pipin” Ferreras (USA) establishes No Limit depth record of 170 m.
  • Nuytco Research completes the first side-by-side Dual DeepWorker submersible.

  • Our World-Underwater Scholarship is renamed the ROLEX Scholarship.

  • Scuba Diving International (SDI) is founded.
  • Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft is recovered.
  • The World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WFIRSTC) is founded.
  • NASDS merges with SSI
  • Dacor is acquired by Mares Diving.
  • The Women Divers Hall of Fame is founded.

  • First ever live video broadcast from the RMS Titanic using the Magellan 725 ROV.
  • Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) is founded.

  • NASA builds the Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station.
  • Nuytco produces the DeepWorker 2000 submersible which is rated to 600 m (2000 ft).
  • Dive equipment manufacturer U.S. Divers becomes Aqua Lung.

  • The first high definition underwater video is filmed on the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
  • Phil Nuytten patents the Remora submarine rescue system.

  • DEMA opens membership from equipment manufacturers to all stakeholders in sport diving.
  • DEMA changes name to Diving Equipment and Marketing Association.
  • Diver discovers the wreck of the Elizabeth & Mary.

  • Umberto Pelizzari (Italy) is the first person to freedive beyond 400 ft (121.92 m).
  • The MK 21 Superlite helmet replaces the MK 12 (U.S. Navy).
  • The International Association for Handicapped Divers is founded in the Netherlands.
  • Technical Diving International is founded.
  • The COMISMER replaces the GISMER

  • COMEX divers simulate a dive to 701 m (2,300 ft) on heliox.
  • AIDA (International Association for the Development of Freediving) is founded.
  • Jim King (USA) is the first diver to reach the bottom of Dean’s Blue Hole.
  • The Nikonos RS 35mm SLR is launched.
  • The Historical Diving Society USA is founded.
  • IAND is renamed the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD).
  • The Women’s Scuba Association (WSA) is founded.
  • The B2B Dive Travel Association is founded.
  • Historical Diver Magazine is founded in Santa Barbara, California.

  • The Diamond Reef System becomes an instructional program.
  • FIRSTC becomes the secretariat for ANSI.
  • New terminology: technical diving.

  • The Historical Diving Society UK is founded.

  • Angela Bandini (Italy) is the first person to freedive beyond 350 ft (91.44 m).
  • James Cameron’s The Abyss creates much interest in scuba diving.
  • Friends of the Reef is founded.

  • COMEX and IFREMER launch the Saga, the world’s largest civilian diver lock-out submersible.
  • Cargo from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha is found.
  • The Deep Rover is launched
  • The Rediscovery of the World is launched by Cousteau.
  • The MK 12 replaces the MK V.
  • Hard Suits Inc is founded.
  • IAND is founded.

  • Divetronic AG introduces the Hans Hass DecoBrain, the first decompression diving computer.
  • United Diving Instructors (UDI) is founded.
  • The DEMA produces I’d Rather Be Diving to promote sport diving.

  • Divers at Duke University conduct a simulated dive to 650 m (2,132 ft).
  • The NDSTC relocates to Panama City, Florida.
  • The Institute of Marine Technology is founded.
  • The National Diving Accident Network is founded.
  • The International Diving Museum opens.
  • The first underwater EFG camera system is launched.
  • The Nikonos IV-A* is launched.

  • COMEX divers make an open-water dive to 501 m (1,644 ft).
  • Can-Dive and Phil Nuytten set a Canadian saturation depth/duration record of 290 m (950 ft) and 31 days.
  • The American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) is founded.
  • DEMA holds its first trade show.
  • Sport Diver Magazine is founded.

  • GERS becomes GISMER

  • NEDU and Duke University conduct a record dive.
  • Project NESCO conducts the first 600-foot (183 m) ocean bounce dives.
  • The Electrolung is developed.
  • The Beaver IV submersible is launched.
  • The Italian Underwater Activities Federation (FIAS) is founded.
  • Nikon launches the Nikonos II.
  • The National Association for Cave Diving (NACD) is founded.
  • The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau is launched.

  • The Undersea Medical Society is founded in Maryland.
  • The LS-1 Underwater Laboratory is launched in Romania.
  • The Deep Diver submersible is launched.
  • The Deep Diving System (DDS) enters Fleet Service in the U.S. Navy.
  • The Spanish Federation of Underwater Activities (FEDAS) is founded.

  • Swiss Hannes Keller and Kenneth MacLeish dive to 222 m (728 ft) in Lake Maggiore, Switzerland.
  • Ed Replogle develops an audible alarm that warns a diver of low air pressure.
  • COMEX is founded in Marseille, France.
  • The Unisuit is launched by Poseidon.
  • The Fenzy flotation device is patented.
  • NASDS, the National Association of Skin Diving Schools is founded by John Gaffney.
  • The San Diego Underwater Photographic Society (SDUPS) is founded.

  • U.S. Navy divers recover Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Astronauts and their spacecraft.
  • Americo Santarelli (Brazil) is the first to freedive beyond 150 ft (45.72 m).
  • The USS Triton submarine travels the world entirely underwater.
  • The bathyscaphe Trieste reaches the deepest point in the ocean.
  • The first Underwater Instructor Certification Course (UICC) is created by NAUI.
  • Small Hope Bay Lodge opens in the Bahamas.

  • The World Underwater Federation is founded.
  • The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) is founded.
  • Y-SCUBA is founded.
  • The first recreational analog dive computer is introduced.
  • The Underwater Society of America is founded.
  • Jerry Lewis plays in scuba film.
  • Hans Hass wins the Oscar for underwater photography for the film Unternehmen Xarifa.
  • Underwater Work is published.
  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau launches the Soucoupe diving saucer.

  • Foxboro Company manufactures the Mark I.
  • Grand Cayman has its first full-time dive operation.
  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau becomes Director of the Monaco Oceanographic Museum.
  • The first international underwater film festival is organized by Al Tillman and Zale Parry.
  • Standards for saturation diving are established.

  • The USN Standard Decompression Tables are published by NEDU.
  • A Royal Navy diver reaches 183 m (600 ft) using a helium-oxygen mix.
  • The red and white divers down flag is popularized by Ted Nixon.
  • Compressors are marketed under the MAKO name.
  • Underwater Photography Simplified is published.
  • The first photos of the deep ocean floor are taken.
  • Cousteau’s The Silent World receives an Academy Award.
  • Perry Submarine Builders is founded.

  • The Dial-A-Breath regulator is designed by Dacor.
  • The FFESSM (French Diving Federation) is founded.
  • Dottie Frazer becomes the first female scuba instructor.
  • The first formal instructor certification program is introduced by Al Tillman and Bev Morgan.
  • Underwater is produced by Howard Hugues.
  • A Guide to Underwater Photography is published.
  • The Complete book of Skin Diving is published.

  • The U.S. Navy Emerson-Lambertsen closed-circuit oxygen rebreather is developed.
  • The Clearance Diving branch of the Royal Navy is established.
  • The neoprene wetsuit goes into commercial production.
  • The Comité des Sports Sous-Marins is founded.
  • The Scuba Training Committee of the Florida Skin Divers Association (FSDA) is founded.
  • The Porpoise single-hose open-circuit regulator is marketed.
  • The Pegasus DPV is launched.
  • The acronym SCUBA is created.

  • The J-valve is developed.
  • Ennio Falco (Italy) is the first to freedive beyond 100 ft (30.48 m).
  • The first of Hass’ books is translated into English.
  • Movie The Frogmen is released.
  • The Sea around Us is published.
  • The Log from the Sea of Cortez is published by Steinbeck.
  • The Biennale Prize is won by Hans Hass.
  • The first issue of The Skin Diver magazine is published.

  • Cressi diving equipment is imported into the U.S.
  • Hugh Bradner designs the first neoprene wetsuit.
  • The Home Station Clearance Diving Team (Royal Navy) is established.
  • The bathyscaphe Trieste is designed.
  • Georges Beuchat designs an underwater camera housing.
  • The International Underwater Spearfishing Association is founded.
  • Dick Anderson becomes the first Aqua-Lung instructor at Rene’s Sporting Goods.
  • The Calypso becomes an oceanographic research vessel.
  • Hilbert Schenck Jr. and Henry Kendall publish Shallow Water Diving for Pleasure and Profit.
  • Jordan Klein and Jerry Greenberg design a simple lucite underwater housing.
  • The GRS becomes the GERS.
  • The U.S. Navy sends the UDT to Korea.

  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau patents the first constant volume drysuit.
  • The British Admiralty Experimental Unit is created.
  • Cressi-Sub is founded.

  • Arne Zettefirström dives to 160 m (525 ft) but dies during decompression.
  • The Groupe de recherches sous-marines (GRS) is created.

  • A fourth Aqua-Lung prototype is built by Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

  • The Naval Training School is established in New York to train salvage divers.
  • Establishment of the Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit (AEDU).
  • John Wayne stars in Cecil B. de Mille’s Reap the Wild Wind.

  • Hans Hass founds expedition society Expedition für biologische Meereskunde.
  • Navy and civilian hard hat divers conduct salvage operations in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

  • Hans Hass publishes his first book, Jagd unter Wasser mit Harpune und Kamera.
  • 33 men are rescued using the McCann-Erickson Rescue Chamber.
  • Midget submarines and rebreathers are used during World War II.

  • The Compleat Goggler is published.
  • Edgar End and Max Nohl conduct the first intentional saturation dive.

  • The Italian navy develops a diver-operated torpedo system.
  • Divers from the scuba club Les Sous l’eau perform an underwater show in Paris.

  • Beebe and Barton reach record depth of 923 m (3,028 ft) in the Bathysphere.
  • The Beuchat Society is founded.

  • A handbook for diving is published in German.

  • The Momsen Lung is developed and tested with success.
  • E.R. Fenimore Johnson is the first commercial manufacturer of underwater camera housings.
  • Amelia Earhart conducts her first of two known dives.

  • The Navy School of Diving and the Experimental Diving Unit are relocated to the Washington Navy Yard.

  • The U.S. Navy Air Compression Tables are developed by EDU.

  • The U.S. Navy and Bureau of Mines sponsor experimental dives.

  • A self-contained system is marketed by Draeger.

  • The USN Diving Manual is published by the Navy Department.
  • Morse manufactures the first Mark V helmet.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea is released.

  • U.S. Navy divers set new depth records of over 91 m (300 ft) while salvaging a submarine.
  • The first report on Deep Diving Tests is published by the US Bureau of Construction and Repair.
  • Underwater images for Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea are filmed by John-Ernest Williamson.
  • The Divinhood helmet is patented.

  • George Stillson establishes an experimental diving school.

  • Yorgos Haggi Statti reportedly freedives to 77 m (253 ft).
  • Draeger develops a diving oxygen rebreather.

  • The Prevention of Compressed-Air Illness is published

  • A diving manual is published by the Royal Navy.

  • Paul Regnard develops the first underwater camera housing.

  • The U.S. Navy establishes its first dive school at Newport, RI.
  • The Albatross is the world’s first vessel specifically-built oceanographic research vessel.

  • A study on pressure is published by Paul Bert.
  • A closed-circuit self-contained diving dress is developed by Henry Fleuss.

  • Chamber recompression is recommended for divers suffering from the bends.

  • A closed underwater observatory is developed by Ernest Bazin.
  • The first modern bathymetric maps are printed.

  • Eadweard Muybridge takes underwater photos in San Francisco Bay.

  • Caisson disease is called ‘the bends.’
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea is published.

  • Auguste Denayrouze replaces the Groin face-piece with a more conventional helmet.

  • French engineer Ernest Bazin develops the first underwater electric lights.

  • Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze develop the first self-contained demand valve.

  • Robert Boyle, studies compression and decompression in animals.

  • August Schrader begins manufacturing diving equipment.

  • The Royal Navy establishes the first diving school.

  • Auguste Siebe’s closed diving dress is used during the salvage of the HMS Royal George.

  • Signs of decompression sickness are recorded for the first time during the salvage of HMS Royal George.

  • A military helmet diving unit is established in the U.K.

  • K. Gauzen designs a surface-supplied helmet.

  • William James designs a successful self-contained underwater breathing apparatus but there is no evidence that it was ever built or tested.

  • Charles and John Deane modify a fire-fighting helmet and air supply system for use underwater.

  • James Rennie designs a surface-supplied rectangular diving bell.

  • Friedrich von Drieberg proposes the Triton apparatus.

  • Robert Fulton builds the Nautilus submarine.

  • John Smeaton makes major improvements to the diving bell.

  • Karl Heinrich Klingert demonstrates his diving apparatus.

  • Benjamin Franklin makes a pair of wooden fins.

  • Fréminet designs a brass helmet.

  • Jacob Rowe designs a diving barrel to salvage a wreck off the Cape Verdes.

  • John Lethbridge develops the Lethbridge Diving Machine.
  • Andrew Becker develops a leather diving suit
  • Pierre Rémy de Beauve develops a surface-supplied diving suit and helmet.

  • First dives for sustenance and to conduct war

Photo credits and links to profiles pages
1. Aviator and explorer Amelia Earhart. Photo: U.S. National Archives (Public Domain). VIEW PROFILE
2. A diver in full costume making a sensational descent (1915). Photo by NOAA (Public Domain).
3. Carmagnolle Atmospheric Diving Suit (ADS) in 1882. Photo by Myrabella (Creative Commons)
4. Lethbridge underwater diving machine (Public Domain).
5. Nikonos I underwater camera (Public Domain). VIEW PROFILE
6. The Turtle was the world’s first submersible used in combat. Image by NOAA (Public Domain) VIEW PROFILE

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