time capsules

By Tamara Collins

1983 - The Future of Video

What a big red monster, was Dick Clarke's first impression of Oceanoptics underwater housing for the JVC GX88 video camera. He had mistaken it for a Super-8 movie camera housing and was shocked to learn that he was holding the first underwater video camera housing, the videomarine system as Wulf Koehler, managing director of Oceanoptics, called it.

The West German company's early prototypes used a cumbersome umbilical cord between the diver and the VCR on the boat. This model, which appeared on the January 1983 cover, was completely remote, with the portable recorder built in.

Although producing a video was almost twice the cost of Super-8, Clarke foresaw that it would be the wave of the future and called to those who wanted to be the avant garde among U/W cinematographers.

1972 - Ancient Man and the Scuba Diver

When Rick Frehsee was called upon by Editor Jack McKenney to cover the excavation of Little Salt Springs in Florida, he envisioned the perfect shot a human skull being pulled from the muck. He was there for four days, watching expedition leader Carl Clausen excavating a shelf at 45 feet with painstaking precision. They found many human bones at the site, as well as chips from flint spear points which were dated at 3000 to 4500 BC. On the last day of Frehsee's trip, while he was packing to leave, Clausen advised him to stay. He was uncovering something that could be the skull of Frehsee's dreams. Frehsee entered the water with Bates Littlehales, a photographer from National Geographic, and descended to the shelf. Clausen lifted the skull out of the sediment and held it up. In the eeriness of that setting and out of the gloom, I could make out the form of a human skull. And Frehsee got his shot.

1964 - A Chance Encounter in Tahiti

In the 1960s, when the exotic, far-flung Pacific was opening up to divers, Dewey Bergman was exploring Tahiti. An article describing his adventures appeared in the January 1964 issue.

The French Club Mediterranee had just begun to make the islands more accessible to divers, and Bergman found many people exploring its waters. In fact, he wrote, Tahiti has become sort of an international rendezvous for divers. The biggest surprise came when he was diving Paea Pass, which he considered almost personal property and ran into Marlon Brando. Both men of few words, the conversation didn't get farther than a mystified Hi there. Bergman found the diving in Tahiti far more fulfilling.