CONDERT, Charles

USA (NA-1832)

Last updated: February 19, 2018 at 2:18 am

Inventor; developed a self-contained compressed air reservoir that consisted of a semi-circular copper tank worn around the back and sides and held in place by suspenders in 1831. Air was released into a hood over the head by means of a hand-operated valve. The tank, which had an approximate capacity of 15 cubic feet, displaced 50 pounds of water. The tank and canvas suit required an estimated 200 pounds of weight to make the diver negatively buoyant. Condert made several successful dives in the East River, a salt water tidal estuary in New York City, at depths up to 6 m (20 ft) before drowning due to a broken breathing tube which may have resulted from a fall or tipping over at depth in 1832, thus becoming the world’s first known scuba fatality.

If William James’ self-contained system (1825) was in fact never built or tested, Condert’s invention would be the world’s first functional scuba.

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