top of page

Who invented scuba diving?

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

There are many stories about the invention of scuba diving.

One such story tells that Jacques-Yves Cousteau invented it in 1943. Others say that Louis de Corlieu, a French naval engineer, is responsible for inventing it. A third theory says that Antonio Ferretti made the first successful underwater experiments with breathing apparatus and compressed air in 1825.

What does SCUBA mean?

SCUBA is an abbreviation of Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. This means equipment that allows you to breathe underwater without being supplied air from the surface.

But before that, divers were using air supplied from the surface by various tubes and pipes.

In 1778, the British engineer, John Smeaton designed the first modern diving bell that could be totally submerged. He did this by using a force pump and tube to allow it to get below water.

Dive gear Nusa Penida
Modern equipment is way different from the first ones!

The first successful self-contained diving system

French inventor and Navy officer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Emile Gagnan developed the first successful scuba diving system. The device, known as the "Aqua-Lung," allowed divers to breathe underwater using a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA).

Cousteau and Gagnan's invention was a major breakthrough in the field of diving technology, as it eliminated the need for divers to rely on surface-supplied air and allowed them to stay underwater for longer periods of time. The Aqua-Lung was made up of two main components: a high-pressure air tank that stored the breathing gas, and a demand regulator that controlled the flow of air to the diver.

Cousteau and Gagnan's invention was first tested in the Mediterranean Sea in 1943 and was an immediate success. The Aqua-Lung allowed divers to explore deeper and more remote underwater locations, which opened up new opportunities for scientific research and commercial diving operations.

The first scuba system in 1943
The first Aqua-lung system (photo credit Aqualung)

There were several other inventors in different parts of the world working on similar devices and coming up with independent inventions. Among these inventors, Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze, Yves Le Prieur, and Henry Fleuss, all of which also developed versions of self-contained diving systems, but none of them were able to commercialize it as Cousteau and Gagnan.

This system was the basis of what we know today for dive equipment!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page