Preserving Our Diving History
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
The recreational diving industry can trace its history back to the end of World War II when Navy Frogmen brought home their new found tool, the Aqua Lung, and introduced it to their civilian friends. Dive equipment manufacturers started making dive gear, lifeguards and spearfishermen started teaching people how to dive and certification agencies were created to formalize training programs for the masses. Well, maybe not “masses” but many anyway. Seventy some-odd years later, things have changed. Many dive equipment manufacturers have gone out of business. The manufacturing industry that specializes in diving equipment has evolved down to the top 4 full-line companies, with perhaps 70 more that manufacture some type of diving equipment and sell wholesale to retail dive stores.
The Sports and Recreation Instruction Industry now includes approximately 40 certification agencies that specialize in the training and certification of scuba divers.
The Travel Industry has blossomed, worldwide and the number of dive resorts and dive operators is at an all time high. Well, at least in numbers before the COVID19 pandemic.
The most remarkable change to our international community is the Retail Dive Store. aka The Dive Shop, The Local Sporting Goods Store, The Retail Dive Center, and the Travel & Outdoor Adventure Stores. From garages and cellars with an air compressor to commercial leases with lots of pegboard to stand-alone stores with training pools and lots of slatwall and grid panels.
No where in the world is this history documented so well as in our skin and scuba diving magazines. Which I am a collector of, by the way. One only has to peruse the back issue of SKIN DIVER Magazine to see, remember and appreciate our diving history. We wrote about it and recorded it. For the most part, much of it is still with us. But it won’t be long before it’s all gone and forgotten.
Our new recreation has grown older and many of our founding pioneers have left us. But they left behind a lot of stuff. Old gear, old books, old magazines. The kind of stuff we Divers cherish and the same kind of stuff our heirs with throw in a dumpster when we die. We can’t let that happen.
I wrote a blog post on facebook two days ago. Post I asked, “How many Diving Historians do we have? I was encouraged with the 11 likes and 18 comments I received. To my surprise, there are still a number of collectors out there. There is even a good number of non-profit organizations and museums that specialize in old diving stuff. Books, magazines, gear, etc.
Dive Industry Foundation plans to organize a list of Diving Historians, Collectors, Museums, and Non-Profits that focus on diving history. We will publish articles on Diving Pioneers, Diving Collectors, Diving Equipment, Diving Magazines and Diving Museums. Since different people collect different things, i.e. equipment, books, magazines, trade show stats (lol), and various diving related information, we’ll do our best to connect the right item with the right source. We’ll also give this topic free press in our Weekly Dive News and monthly newsletter The Dive Industry Professional.
This should be a fun project for the international diving community. Contact the Foundation and let us know what you specialize in and how we can help.
I’ll start off by listing Dive Industry Foundation, non-profit 501c3, as an organizer, media & marketing source and a collector of Dive Magazines. Contact: Gene Muchanski, Executive Director. Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904. Phone: 321-914-3778. email: email@example.com Website: www.diveindustry.org Donations of any size are appreciated. Specify – Dive History Project. Full tax deductions as allowed by law.