SCUBA Diving Equipment History

SCUBA Diving Equipment History
Scuba diving is a gear-intensive pursuit. Without the complicated technology of compressed air tanks and pressure-sensitive valves, scuba diving would be impossible, and yet more is necessary to increase its safety margin to the point that it can be indulged as a recreation sport. Developments in scuba diving technology since the 1940s have been critical to widening access to diving and the undersea world.


The precursor to scuba equipment is found in the combination of air compressor, air line and diving suit. The most famous examples are the old copper and brass helmet diving rigs.


The first recognizably modern set of equipment was the Aqualung developed in the 1940s by Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan. It consisted of an open circuit cylinder (tank) of compressed air and a regulator.


In 1971, Scubapro introduced the first buoyancy control device, or BCD. This is a vest with air bladders, which can be filled (using air from the cylinder) or emptied to regulate a diver's buoyancy.

Analog Dive Computer

Scubapro was also an early experimenter with automatic decompression calculations, and in 1972, it introduced an analog forerunner of the dive computer.

Digital Dive Computer

The first workable digital dive computer was the Orca Edge, released in 1983.


Although working rebreathers date to the 1940s, their general use and acceptance took much longer to achieve. Wreck divers in the U.S. did not start using them until the 1990s, and the British group BSAC did not authorize their use until 2001.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.