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Geared Diving

History of Diving

Diving Types and Their History

Diving From The Ancient Times To Today

People have been practicing diving by holding their breath for centuries. Mankind have met the underwater world at least 5000 years ago and have evolved to where they are because of their consciousness and eagerness to discover. Discovering under the sea has been a dream in many people’s minds. Their desire to stay underwater was enhanced because of their desire of hunting, discovering, repairing sail boats and perhaps finding treasures.


Bachrach (1982) five main methods in diving history:

  • Diving while holding breath - free diving
  • Skin diving
  • Life diving
  • Diving supported by a surface or diving with a helmet
  • Today, all of these methods are in practice.

What is needed in order to stay underwater for a long period of time? It was possible to breathe through a long pipe and dive deep however due to the pressure of the water and the length of the pipe these dives lasted quite brief. People tried to breathe through an air filled pouch but it was unsuccessful due to carbon dioxide accumulation.

In the 16th century when air filled diving bells were invented, it became possible stay underwater for a long period of time. This bell was located a bit under the surface of the water. The bottom part was able to be opened and with the pressure of the water it makes the air storable inside the bell. The diver’s head would be inside the bell just before they dive to breathe as much as they can, when they reach the deep they were able to breathe a big breath and collect sponges and discover till their breath runs out. When their air was gone, they were able to go back to the bell, breathe and drop in their collectibles.

In the 16th century, all of the immersion suits made of leather were tried out at 20 meter deep. The air pumped from the surface of the air with bellows travels to the metal helmets which regulates the pressure level of the diver and provides air to let them go deeper. Around 1830’s this system was specifically used in observation of ship ruins.

At the beginning of 19th century technological developments and scientific discoveries have accelerated the underwater discoveries. It became evident and known, thanks to the researches of Paul Bert and John Scott in France and Scotland, the effects of water pressure on the human body and the limit of safe decompression levels. At the same time, compressed air pumps, regulators and so on made it possible to stay underwater for longer periods of time.

Until 20th century when gas mixtures would be discovered, there had not been any developments in the metal helmet type diving. The first use of helium - oxygen mixture was in 1939 in the USS Squalus submarine. Hard helmet system is the most commercially used system today. Developing different gas mixtures and decompression tables enabled divers to stay underwater longer. Despite all the advantages, the biggest disadvantage of this system was that it limited the movements of the divers. This limitation has partially been solved by the development of scuba gear.

A commonly used method amongst divers is diving with compressed air (Scuba Diving).


There are many steps in sufficient scuba systems. In 1908 Friedrich Von Drieberg invented a system called Triton which had compressed air in a box, but the system did not work. However this system indicated that it was possible to invent a system where the compressed air would be located at the back of the diver to supply the necessary air flow.

Scuba (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) comes from the initials of the sentence inside the parenthesis. Compared with other divers, scuba provides mobility, allowing divers to freely discover underwater.

Air valves have played a huge role in the development of scuba gear. When divers breathe the air out a big amount of air is wasted. In 1920’s a French naval officer, Yves Le Prieur, developed a diving apparatus which provided the needed amount of air. He got the patent of the apparatus in 1926. This apparatus consisted of a metal tube filled with compressed air which was worn on the back of the diver and connected to the mouth with a pipe. The diver was also using a nose latch and glasses to ensure sight however the apparatus did not ensure pressure balance. The cylinder had 2000 psi of air and allowed for a 15 minute deep dive. With the development of these models, 10 minutes in 12 meters and 30 minutes in 7 meters diving was accomplished. The biggest issue of the apparatus of Le Prieur was the absence of a flow valve which provided the same amount of air constantly. In 1943 Dr. Christian Lambersten started to develop breathing machines with oxygen. These devices have been used by many divers successfully. In terms of mobility, the biggest improvement was the swimming fins invented by Commander de Carlieu in 1930’s while being the first swimming fins after the ones Borelli invented in the 1680’s. When used with La Prieur’s tank, mask and nose latch, the swimming fins allowed divers to stand straight up in the water and move. Further developed one windowed masks provided better vision to the users along with pressure balance, comfort and safety.

There are 2 main scuba principles which are called open and closed term. Open term means that the air flowing out of the breather is let out inside the water. In closed term however, the used air is purified from the carbon dioxide inside itself and re-oxigenated. This system was commonly used before developments in open term system.

Now, it is used in the military since it does not produce bubbles. In all of the systems, the surrounding water is as the same pressure as the water and in a case of fast resurfacing attempts decompression issues may occur. The respiration air consisting of hydrogen-oxygen, helium-oxygen or helium-nitrogen-oxygen increase the depth and underwater times.


Habitats are where experienced divers-scientists live where they are under the influence of a lot of pressure. Mostly they have many rooms and are in cylindrical shapes and they provide a room for comfortable living on the sea for a long period of time. The air inside the habitat is equal to the pressure of outside and the air flow is determined and given as a mixture depending on how deep it is located. Habitat divers enter from the surface or kept under water in equal pressure to be sent to the habitat later on. When the diver is done, they either stay underwater or go into the room inside the habitat to decompress.

What Is Scuba?

Scuba is made up of the initials of Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. It is done with an independent and portable air/gas tank regulated with environments’ pressure which allows breathing. Scuba, scuba gear or scuba diving can be used to describe the act of doing the sport, the equipment used or the recreational activity. In our day, it is also called as geared diving.

Scuba diving is popular, fun and easy. The attention towards scuba and diving also is increasing where it decreases towards any other outdoor recreational activity.

More than 70% of the world is filled with water. The mystery of underwater has been mentioned in ancient ages till today, in myths and Jules Verne books and Hollywood movies. Prior to everything, the time spent underwater was limited by people’s breath and was done solely to collect pearls, sponges or valuable materials as such. Tube diving served for the purposes of diving by increasing that time span.

Underwater research had started almost 300 years ago with heavy underwater suits, diving bells and popping air from above the surface. Actually, self-sustaining and without being tied to the surface air usage was possible due to the recent technological and mechanical developments.

Although researches done underwater by divers have been carried out since the 1700’s it was unattainable for many people. Scuba diving for fun was beyond a luxury to do as an activity. Due to the developments in pressure relief valves, valves and pressured air containers in 1930’s the first self sufficient underwater breathing devices were developed and has lead to the tube diving today.

These tubes were insufficient and bulky systems which were blasting air to the divers face. Between 1942-1946, naval officer Jaques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Emile Gagnan developed a mechanism called Aqua Lung which used pressure relief valves and supplied air in necessary pressure level only when the diver breathes in. In the following 20 years, Aqua Lung carried out its safety and reliability and therefore “Athletic Diving” was born in 1960’s.

In 1960’s, to ensure the rules and the safety regulations of this new sport, NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) and in 1067 PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) were established.

Developments carried out in the 1970’s and equilibrium vests, better systems and pressure indicators were added. In 1980’s and 1990’s the development of better, lighter, more comfortable and safer equipment made scuba more popular and become an industry on its own.

Today, scuba is an activity that can be done by everyone to discover the magical underwater world just by budgeting a bit to the side.

When you want to get into diving, you can enroll in courses, rent equipments, dive with guidance, dive from the shore or the boat and start discovering underwater.

You can enroll in our national or international diving tours to get to know the diving spots around the world while be able to learn about different cultures around the world.


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