The History of Scuba Diving

The Ancients underwater

The first historical reports of people breathing under water comes from the 4th century BC. The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that divers descended with an upturned cauldron which trapped air inside. More than 1000 years later the famous artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci drew diagrams of an underwater breathing system incorporating an air tank (the first recorded example of one), a diving suit and even a urine collector. He kept his designs secret for fear of them being appropriated for military or criminal ends. However in 1531, Guglielmo de Lorena made successful dives on a couple of Caligula’s ancient shipwrecks by using Da Vinci’s designs.

The invention of underwater technology

In the 19th century many designs of diving helmet came about. These worked by pumping air from the surface down a pipe and into the helmet. Late in the century, compressed gas cylinders were being made by factories in England and this made way for portable sub-aqua equipment with longer submersion times.

Rebreathers were also invented around this time. They worked on the concept of recycling air by passing the diver produced carbon dioxide through some kind of chemical filter to enrich it with oxygen so it can be re-breathed by the diver.

Most of this equipment was designed for practical use by miners or for escape from submarines for example. It was not until Emile Gagnan and the famous underwater adventurer Jacques Costeau invented the aqualung in 1943 that the blue-print was set in place for today’s modern SCUBA equipment.

There have been many improvements on Costeau’s original design since then and the acronym scuba has become a household name. Today, thanks to this ground breaking technology thousands of people around the world enjoy scuba diving as an enjoyable leisure pursuit or sport.