Scuba divers & events that define generations

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Angelo Farina

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I was amazed to discover the PADI RDP tables were introduced in 1988. They actually postdate the Uwatac Aladin, the first mass market digital dive computer. So the PADI table era was doomed from the start, although the work that went into creating them survives as the DSAT algorithm still used by many dive computers.

Which leaves us with the question of how did earlier divers manage short SI dives?
Short SI were forbidden. Min was 2h but recommended at least 4. Only two dives every 24h. One dive in the morning (usually with some deco), a good lunch of sea food, some rest on the beach, a second shallow and short dive with no deco, and that was a great diving day.
 

John C. Ratliff

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You might be confusing double-hose regulators, which are position sensitive. The only condition I can think of that would make breathing a single hose regulator difficult when upside-down is if water was leaking in around your mouthpiece or from a failed exhaust mushroom valve. Even double hoses are breathable in all positions, though are noticeably different.

@John C. Ratliff has some nice illustrations why double hose regulators are position sensitive.
Actually, the first single hose regulators were tilt valves, and some were relatively hard breathers too. If looking up, or on your back, they would breath harder, especially looking straight up at the boat’s underside. I’ll get that illustration soon (have it on my main computer, and I’m on my iPad now).

SeaRat

PS: This diagram isn't mine, but comes from the first scuba manual authored for U.S. Divers Company by Bill Barada, titled Let's Go Diving, Illustrated Diving Manual, published by U.S. Divers Company, 1962, page 29. So this diagram is now 59 years old. It's interesting how we loose information while gaining new information.
 

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Sam Miller III

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Lets see if I can stir the pot...


For me it began with my grandmother who was on a boat that sunk in the Ohio river in the middle of the night . She hung on to a board for many hours until and she was rescued at daylight. She, rightfully so , was terrified of water which she passed on to my mother.

My mother was determined I would not have the same fear of water as she had experienced her entire life so at a very young age I was enrolled in swimming classes at the local YMCA I was a pre -teen when I contacted a very severe eye infection from the chorine or lack of chorine - it was WW11.

The answer was found at a relatives sporting goods store in a pair of professional swimming googles . This opened up a a new world for me.

I often visited with my grandfather who's farm had a 10 acre lake. I began experimenting with methods of impaling fish - all without success but I was gaining experience ...
Lets end it here --Its a long and involved story (read more in my forth coming book)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


1948
Self contained diving appeared one day in the great Dr. Hans Hass B&W movie Under the red sea , Dr Hass and his companions were actually swimming around underwater ( swim diving) in a thing called a rebreather.

I shared this discovery with my cousin Clifton who had just graduated with a degree in mining engineering. He indicated it was a mine safety device that we could construct one out of MSE & WW 11 surplus items -- and we did, We dove it two times after hours in a local swimming pool and then hung it up -- too dangerous we were using baro lime as a desiccant


That was the summer of 1948..

That winter in December 1948 a classmate cut out an article for me from
Science Illustrated titled The first of the men fish by James Dogan-- this was the first US article which introduced compressed air-self contained diving and JY Cousteau to the US. "Cousteau diving" as JYC wanted this kind of diving to be called in US. We fooled him, we in SoCal called it 'Lung diving.' Which is now internationally known as "SCUBA diving." A name adapted from Dr. Chris Lamberson's WW11 rebreather the "LARU."

T
he genesis of recreational SCUBA diving in the US had begun with a B& W movie and a article from an obscure scientific magazine



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Some years ago,
Skin Diver Magazine aka SDM conducted a 25 year study at five (5) intervals of diver participation and retention within the sport of skin & SCUBA diving . I was "honored ???" to have received copies which were intended to be only available to advertisers and especially the emerging dive industry
These five studies conducted over 25 years revealed that the average diver had a longevity, as I recall after the passage of time as 2.9 active years.

That was over 30 years ago, when the diving population was concentrated in SoCal, I now, with with world wide acceptance and increased participation expect the diver longevity and retention to be increased . But - How much ? God Only Knows (GOK) since those SDM surveys, there has been no valid surveys.

However, if SCUBA Board longevity is an indicator the original SDM surveys are apparently still valid .
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In 1993 Harry Backstein collected and published the monumental 435 page "Whos Who in SCUBA Diving;
the golden anniversary of SCUBA Diving." In this incredible book he provides a short biography of individuals, companies, tour and resort operators and retail dive stores in the US . I was afforded a half page as was my son who was emerging as a recognized diver in SoCal. Harry sent me two copies; one is a mint copy inscribed to me and the second i have been utilizing as a well-used working reference copy.

Today I thumbed through my working copy and was amazed at the number of Individuals, many who had been friends and diving companions who were no longer with us. The same applied in the other sections of the book, so many slipped away into the dust of diving.

If you don't have the book in your dive library, I highly recommend acquiring a copy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


When was the beginning of recreational diving ?

I suspect it depends who you chat with?

The precious few remaining SoCal divers who were contemporaries of the pioneers, Gilpatric (who lived and passed away in Santa Barbara) Charlie Sturgil, of L A who began with modified goggles in 1929 (check my story "The Mask"- only 3 remain ) The Bottom Scratchers of San Diego who formed a club in 1930s and finally those who migrated into the sport after WW 11 and Korea police action when diving was in its infancy -- Fins mask & snorkel tank and regulator-- no exposure protection, instrumentation or flotation

Some considers Sea Hunt or the Underwater world of Cousteau as the beginning Then there are many who are brain washed to believe it began when they honored the diving world with their presence.

I recall our visit to the famed New Mexico Blue Hole, a big fresh water "swimming pool" 90 feet in diameter X 80 feet deep with shoulder to shoulder "divers." My wife Betty and I played tourist. walking around the parking lot chatting with the participants; students and instructors. We engaged a friendly super duper PADI instructor in a conversation about diving.

We were informed PADI started it all ! Before PADI there was no diving! No books. magazines movies, organizations or certifications, PADI started it all !! (he gulped down a lot of PADI cool aid )

The instructor presented me with his Official PADI business his card concurrently stating we were not too old to lean to dive. I noticed his PADI instructor number had a lot of zeros behind it. It took herculean effort not to inform him my PADI instructor number was thee digits, number 241 and was personally presented to me by John Cronin, founder of PADI after he became US Divers GM and when I was teaching the US Divers company SCUBA Courses.

Since that event I have noticed that a large percentage of PADI instructors apparently magically acquire the same attitude. There was no diving until they and PADI graced the underwater world. today as a result of that meeting I seldom mention that I am a PADI instructor


Today it appears we have several categories of divers:
*The precious few remaining SoCal pioneer divers
**Sea Hunt affictionanados
***The world of Cousteau
****The modern hero Instructor

What defines a "diving generation?" I suspect it is based on who you chat with and how long and involved they are in the sport

SDM
 
OP
lowwall

lowwall

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It took herculean effort not to inform him my PADI instructor number was thee digits, number 241 and was personally presented to me by John Cronin, founder of PADI after he became US Divers GM and when I was teaching the US Divers company SCUBA Courses.
What was in those courses? I'd love to see an example of an OW schedule from the days before the jacket BC.
 

scubadada

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Today it appears we have several categories of divers:
*The precious few remaining SoCal pioneer divers
**Sea Hunt affictionanados
***The world of Cousteau
****The modern hero Instructor

Hi @Sam Miller III

I watched Sea Hunt as a young child and the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau when I was older. I was certified by LA Co in 1970, when I was 16. I guess I belong somewhere in generation 2-3. I still dive today, with much of the same wonder as when I started 51 years ago. We all stand on your shoulders, thank you.
 

tursiops

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It started for me in 1951 when I saw the movie Frogmen. I was ten years old living on a river is southern Ohio; I knew water, and swimming, but that movie grabbed me. It was 15 years later in college that I had a chance to take a scuba class, taught by one of the grad students in Phys Ed who knew how to dive (he'd been a pitcher for the Washington Senators, which got disbanded, and he decided to go to grad school). We learned on double-hose regs, no buoyancy devices, no exposure suits, in a university pool for many many weeks; we never got certified because Lake Michigan froze over and we couldn't get to open water. i tried again the next year; but this time I was the second most-experienced person in the room , after the instructor, so acted as his divemaster. The Lake froze over again, and again we never got certified. In retrospect, I have no idea what the certification might have been; I don't think the instructor had any kind of credentials. He did give us a "certification" card, which is probably all we would have gotten if we could have gone to open water!
Northwestern Scuba Card_redacted.jpg


In 1970 I finally got to do an open water dive, in Malta, with some British colleagues i was there with for an oceanographic research program. Single hose reg (wow!), no BCD, no exposure suit. In 1984 I finally got NAUI certified.

I have no idea what generation that makes me!
 

Akimbo

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The precious few remaining SoCal divers who were contemporaries of the pioneers, Gilpatric (who lived and passed away in Santa Barbara)

I know that you have been researching Guy Gilpatric for years. Wikipedia barely lists his contributions to diving. I guess if you really want to get picky about it, the French inventors Benoît Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze should be counted as the "first generation" in the 1860s. The equivalent to Sea Hunt at the time would be Jules Verne's book, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

A lot of undersea explorers and adventures of the late 1800s and early 1900s credited Jules Verne for their interest — sort of the Jacques Cousteau of the era.
 

Angelo Farina

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Lets see if I can stir the pot...


For me it began with my grandmother who was on a boat that sunk in the Ohio river in the middle of the night . She hung on to a board for many hours until and she was rescued at daylight. She, rightfully so , was terrified of water which she passed on to my mother.
Thanks, very useful.
Does this means that in the US no one was using rebreathers, before Cousteau-Gagnan compressed air systems appeared on the market?
Here in Europe, instead, and particularly in Italy, the pure-oxygen rebreather was the standard Scuba system until around 1970, when finally compressed-air system superseded those dangerous CC rebreathers.
This possibly explains the profound differences between training systems employed on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Here, using CC rebreathers, the training had to be long, including deep knowledge about physics, physiology, and the capability of self-controlling breathing and buoyancy. The standard diving course was 6 months long...
Starting directly with "simple to use" compressed air systems, the training in the US was possibly much shorter, or even not-existent. Here no one could even think to start diving without proper "military grade" training...
On the other side, the pure-oxygen rebreather is small, compact, lightweight, and even tiny females could use it easily.
In the Hans Hasse's films you see her girlfriend (and later wife) Lotte swimming very gracefully with her tiny back-mounted rebreather. Here in Italy, the first diving course were organised just after WWII by Luigi Ferraro. His wife was trained as a military frogman during WWII, she was the only female in the Gamma Group, where commander Ferraro did perform many successfull attacks to enemy vessels.
So, albeit long and military grade, diving courses here were initially very "female-friendly"; and it was easy for females to get certified, the CC rebreather is actually better suited for them for a number of physiological and psychological reasons.
When, in the seventies, heavy twin tanks superseded rebreathers, the situation went much worst for females.
When my wife (at the time my girlfriend, she was 16) started her first diving course, in 1976, the did perform very well with the CC rebreather, but she failed when switching to twin tanks, at the end of the course. Without a bladder, she was not capable to keep a proper buoyancy and trim (no BCD, of course, and she was tiny and negative, so even without any weight she was always too heavy with a steel twin tank on her shoulders).
So the advent of air tanks, in the seventies, caused the number of female divers to diminish significantly. Diving became again female-friendly only 10 years later, with the advent of the "American style" training and equipment: a single tank with BCD, an octopus instead of two complete regulators (of which usually the main was a twin-hoses), and shorter and easier courses.
I was a director of a course in 1985 where we had an anomalous number of students (something as 60, instead of the usual 15-20 we had on previous years), and 4/5 of them were females of any age...
This had been entirely impossible 10 years before. During my first course, in 1975, there was only one female, who gave up after just 2 months. The following year there was only my girlfriend, who completed the course but was not certified for failing the exam with the twin tank.
So I think that its important also to understand if the same gender-related dynamics happened also in the US. When diving became a popular sport for females?
 

Akimbo

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Does this means that in the US no one was using rebreathers, before Cousteau-Gagnan compressed air systems appeared on the market?

Rebreathers were virtually unheard of in the US before World War II. Unlike Europe, pure Oxygen rebreathers were not manufactured and sold to the US civilian market.

Dr. Christian Lambertsen pioneered the development of Oxygen rebreathers for use underwater in the US. The UK, Italy, and Germany was many years ahead of the us. Lambertsen coined the acronym SCUBA for the military rebreathers he developed, but a lot of his work was classified.

His work began in the late 1930s but he had a hard time getting the US Navy interested. It didn't help that he was an Army officer. Navy diving was exclusively dedicated underwater work in ship inspection and repair, salvage, and submarine rescue. The US was very late to recognize the value of combat swimmers, which didn't really start here until a year or two into our joining World War II.

After the war, a few surplus rebreathers were sold and others were cobbled together by small groups in Southern California and Canada, but the Aqua Lung hit the market about the same time. That largely ended interest in O2 rebreathes here.

I was taught the basics O2 rebreathers in my 1962 Scuba class but never actually saw one until about 3 years later when a mentor built one — which nearly killed him in a swimming pool test. He forgot to purge the bag.

IMO the main factor that made the Mediterranean the birthplace for Scuba diving is warm(ish) water temperature (in the summer) near a large population and manufacturing base. Florida and Southern California were pretty sparsely populated before the war and the Great Depression made recreation a very low priority. The one American that influenced the European pioneers, Guy Gilpatric, was in the Mediterranean at the time.
 
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