July 7, 2005

Legends Series

Dr. Sam Miller has seen the history of diving by living it. Author and SCUBA expert, he presents some of his thoughts and experiences in this series of articles that are exclusive to patrons of Portage Quarry.

Biography of Dr. Sam Miller

What's In a Name
by Dr. Sam Miller
© 2006 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.

It all began about 75 years ago.

In 1938 the noted American author Guy Gilpatric wrote a book “The Compleat Goggler,” (Dodd-Mead Co, 1938). For lack of a better descriptive name all who donned a pair of goggles to peak under water were referred to as “Gogglers.”

In the 1930s and 1940s a young Austrian, Hans Hass explored the Caribbean and the Red Sea underwater using early re-breathers. For lack of a more colorful name he called his activity “Swim Diving,” and the participants “Swim divers.” (Dr. Hass’s first US book was Diving to Adventure, Doubleday 1951).

In 1943, a French Canadian, Emile Gagnan and a French Naval Officer, Jacques Cousteau joined a regulator designed for automotive use with a high pressure cylinder to create a compressed air underwater breathing apparatus. Once again for lack of a better name the activity was called “Cousteau diving” (First of the men fish, James Dugan, 1948--Jacques Cousteau’s first US book was The Silent World, Harper and Rowe, 1953 ).

In the early 1950s when the first Scuba units arrived in the US they were identified by their name plates as “Aqua lungs” and the activity was “Aqua Lung diving.” Soon this activity was soon shortened to “Lung Diving.”

On 16 October, 1956 the US Navy issued NAVSHIPS 250-538. This was the first USN document addressing the use of the “Aqua Lung.” In order to describe the diving activity the USN dusted off a 1943 acronym which had been used to describe a WW 11 submarine escape device-That acronym was “SCUBA,” AKA “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.”

Almost immediately Richard “Dick” Klein, the founder and president of a now defunct diving manufacturing company called Healthways recognized the value of the term SCUBA so he placed a copy write on the acronym.” Soon all Healthways products had the term “SCUBA” somewhere in their product name.

By the early 1960s Dick was ill and Healthways had fallen on hard times. In 1962 Healthways had attempted to establish a new professional line which never got off the ground. In 1963 Healthways went into bankruptcy.

Two Californians, Dick Bonin and Gus de la Valle, purchased the assets and the name of Healthway’s professional line for $1.00 and “due consideration.” That professional line was and still is known as “Scuba Pro.” (a picture of the very rare 1962 Healthways/Scuba pro catalog may be viewed at www.seastar.at by pressing the “Nostalgia” button).

In the early 1970s Don Breslow resurrected his relative, Dick Klein’s dream of a professional Scuba line by establishing a company called “Scuba Master.” Great products, good marketing, experienced staff, all the components were in place for success, but the company closed it’s doors after several years.

Now only Scuba Pro remains

From “Gogglers” to “Swim divers” to “Cousteau divers,” to “Aqua Lung divers” to “Lung divers” to the present “SCUBA divers.” Recreational diving has certainly come a long way in a short time

The rest is history……
(and the rest of the story is in my forthcoming book)

Dr. Samuel Miller

© 2006 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.

Thank you for your interest in Dr. Sam Miller's History
of SCUBA diving. The text in this article is the sole property of Dr. Sam Miller, he is the exclusive author. Portage Quarry has presented it in its entirety with no editorial review. They are copyrighted and cannot be used in any way without the written permission of Dr. Sam Miller. If you would like a copy of this
article please contact the webmaster
.

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