By Tamara Collins
1980 The Underwater Photo Center Makes its Debut
Divers didn't always have the amenities that we depend upon today. It wasn't until the '80s that the underwater photo center was transformed into the fixture of resort life that we've come to expect. Geri Murphy reported on the debut of the first underwater photo center at the Riding Rock Inn on San Salvador in the Bahamas.
Skin Diver's publisher, Paul Tzimoulis, and photographers Dave Woodward and Dick Batchelder were instrumental in the design, layout and features of the new photo center. Features of note were a classroom, a color processing and printing lab and an equipment rental department. Murphy predicted the concept may set the stage for the development of similar facilities on other resort islands. She couldn't have been more right.
1972 The First Scuba Diving Machine
Most divers attribute the advent of scuba to Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan, but the Cousteau-Gagnan demand valve was actually an improvement upon the constant flow compressed air apparatus invented by Captain Yves Le Prieur. You may think the story of scuba begins there, but it goes back even farther, to 1918.
Captain W.O. Shelford's November 1972 article reveals that the first patented scuba diving machine was invented in Tokyo, Japan, by a man named Ohgushi. According to literature from the Tokyo Submarine Industrial Company, Ohgushi's Peerless Respirator could be used with one or two compressed air cylinders or as a surface demand valve. The diver had to bite down on a valve to release air into the mask, which was inhaled through the nose. The respirator was reportedly tested to 375 feet.
1961 Prime Time Skin Diver
It was one of Skin Diver's first moments of glory. It had all the elements of success: prime time, a major network, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the Dinah Shore Chevy Show. On January 15, 1961, viewers around the nation tuned in to NBC for the 2nd Annual Aqua Rodeo, where five two-man diving teams competed for a $500 prize. Skin Diver's John Gaffney and Marineland's Jake Jacobs were the judges. The events? Shark Busting and the Bat Ray Round-up.
The Rodeo took place in the 540,000 gallon tank at the now defunct Marineland of the Pacific, on the beautiful shores of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Was the Rodeo a success? Apparently not. It seems that this second annual event was also the last.