The world of SCUBA diving is growing exponentially worldwide, with ever more curious explorers taking the plunge to see the underwater world for themselves. Although a little studying, class time, and a few hundred dollars will get you everything you need to start breathing underwater, the opportunity to do so is only available because of the tireless efforts of a few SCUBA pioneers. There are many people in which to thank for our wonderful world of recreational diving, but here are just 3 that we think had the greatest impact on the world of SCUBA.
Perhaps the greatest SCUBA pioneer of all time, and certainly the most recognizable of diving names is Jacques Cousteau. Cousteau is credited with bringing technology and apparatus development such as the addition of a demand regulator to the aqua-lung that lead to extended underwater durations and early SCUBA development.
As leader of the first underwater archeological explorations, his work opened the door to a world of scientific approaches to underwater exploration, documentation, recovery operations, and ecosystem preservation. In the 1960s and 1970s the television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau thrust the importance of SCUBA’s role in gaining greater understanding of the sea into public awareness.
Legendary in the world of SCUBA is Albert Tillman. From the age of ten, Tillman spent his life in the promotion of skin and SCUBA diving awareness, training and its advancement as a sport. While serving as Director of Sports and Underwater Activities in L.A., California in the early 1950’s, Tillman and co-founder, Bev Morgan, helped to create a program designed to teach diving instructors. The training program, a degreed college program and related college textbooks, and a diving instruction film, all developed or authored by Tillman, were firsts in the world in the evolving diving sport.
As an award winning underwater photographer, Tillman was the Technical Advisor to the television series Sea Hunt. Tillman founded the National Association of Underwater Instructors NAUI in the early 1960s, the first generation instructors of which went on to make notable contributions themselves to skin and SCUBA diving.
Co-founder in the 1950s of the Los Angeles County’s dive instructor’s training program, Morgan’s experience led him to examine the needs that were being expressed concerning dive suits, helmet design and equipment issues.
For development of comfortable, lightweight, diving suits, gear and equipment, Bev Morgan has left an indelible mark on the entire SCUBA industry. With former Navy diver Bob Kirby, Morgan’s innovations to the wetsuit made profound impacts on commercial and sport diving, and the Kirby Morgan name remains one of the most recognizable in the industry.