Discover Omni Divers Underwater Services!


Omni Divers *** Enriched Air Nitrox

PADI Enriched Air Nitrox Course Schedule *** Bonneville Seabase, Utah

The History of Technical Diving

from the February/March 1996 issue of aquaCorps Journal (Now Defunct)

1878 Barometric Pressure discussing oxygen toxicity, hypoxia and decompression sickness published by Dr. Paul Bert.

1879 First closed-circuit oxygen rebreather (Fieussmask/Siebe Gorman).

1908 Development of the first staged decompression techniques/tables (Haldane).

1919 Patent for oxygen-helium breathing mixtures (Cooke).

1925 US Bureau Of Mines experiments with helium decompressions (Hidebrand, Sayers, Yant).

1926 First self-contained open-circuit scuba system (Fernez-Le Prieur).

1928 British air with oxygen decompression tables to 320f/98m (Davis, Damant).

1935 Nitrogen narcosis attributed to elevated nitrogen partial pressures (Behnke).

1937 First successful heliox dive (End, Nohl).

1939 USN Heliox Tables published (Behnke).

1939 Successful rescue and salvage of USS Squalus (240f/74m).

1943 Development of the Gagnan - Cousteau aqualung demand valve regulator.

1943 Enriched air nitrox first proposed as a diving gas to reduce decompression problems (Lambertson).

1953 USN Air Tables first published.

1957 Development of saturation diving techniques: The Genesis Project (Bond).

1959 Nitrox diving methods first published in USN diving manual.

1962 First commercial heliox dive to 420f/129m (Wilson).

1962 First saturation dive to 200f/61m (Link).

1962 Hans Keller successfully demonstrates gas sequencing techniques on a 1,000f/307m bounce dive.

1965 First commercial saturation dive to 250f/77m using the Westinghouse Cachalot System.

1967 Hal Watts dives to 390f/120m on air, setting a new world deep air record.

1968 Walter Stark launches the ElectroLung: the first electronic closed-circuit system.

1968 Neal Watson sets new deep air record of 437f/134m and is published in the Guinness Book of World Records.

1970 First recorded incident of High Pressure Nervous Syndrome (HPNS).

1970 NOAA launches its enriched air nitrox program.

1975 Smith and Holtzendorff successfully completed a nitrox mixed gas dive on 1 June 1975 (215 ft deep, 26% Oxygen, 41 Min. bottom time) the first in the sport diving community. They were experimenting with reduced decompression and possible reduction in narcosis (per Court Smith, 4-20-98).

1975 The unsuccessful Smith-Holtzendorff dive occurred on 30 Nov 1975. The open-circuit mix dive (Smith and Holtzendorff at Wakulla Springs) resulted in a fatality (Holtzendorff drowned after convulsion following 02 breathing).

1979 NOAA nitrox diving methods published in NOAA Diving Manual 2nd Edition.

1980 First successful open-circuit mix sport dives at Diepolder II to 360f/110m (D. Sweet).

1981 Jerry Buchanon, Bob Horton, and Joe Schneeweiss conduct a series of open-circuit heliox dives on the Guinilda (240f/74m), Lake Superior, Michigan.

1982 ORCA Industries launches the first consumer dive computer, the EDGE.

1986 International Association of Nitrox Divers (IAND) formed by Dick Rutkowski to provide nitrox training to sport divers.

1987 Jochen Hassenmeyer conducts open-circuit mix dive to 656f/201m.

1987 Hal Watts forms the Professional Scuba Association (PSA) to offer deep diving training.

1987 Ed Betts forms the American Nitrox Divers Inc. (ANDI) to offer enriched air, dubbed Safe Air training.

1987 Rob Palmer and others conduct exploration of the Andros Blue Holes using open-circuit heliox and closed-circuit systems provided by Stuart Clough of Carmellan.

1987 Wakulla Springs Project: Bill Stone and team successfully complete over thirty-five 300f/93m-plus dives at Wakulla Springs using heliox and Hamilton Research tables. Test dives the planet's first fully redundant rebreather, the Cis-Lunar Mk-1.

1988 Sheck Exley's record open-circuit trimix dive to 780f/239m at Nacimiento Del Rio Monte using trimix and a series of nitrox mixtures for decompression.

1989 Parker Turner, Bill Gavin and Bill Main complete the Sullivan Connection (240f/74m) using trimix/nitrox mixes.

1990 Former Ocean Quest promoter Bret Gilliam dives to 452f/138m on air, surpassing Watson's 1968 record by 15f/5m.

1991 aquaCorps coins the term "technical diving" to describe the emerging new field of sport diving.

1991 Key West Diver founder Billy Deans offers the first open-circuit helium training program, and establishes the first technical diving training facility in the US.

1991 Tom Mount joins IAND as president, changes the name to the International Association of Nitrox Technical Divers (IANTD) and proceeds to develop and launch a full schedule of technical diving courses with wife Patty Mount.

1991 PADI is the first major recreational agency to officially recognize technical diving in an article 'Technical Diving: Does PADI Have its Head In The Sand?' by Drew Richardson in Undersea Journal 4, 1991.

1991 A DEMA committee bans nitrox training providers from the Houston show. They later lift the ban after meeting with ANDI and IANTD representatives.

1991 Skin Diver editor Bill Gleason says 'nitrox users have the right' in an editorial.

1992 In response to the ban by DEMA, aquaCorps organizes the Enriched Air Nitrox Workshop in conjunction with the Scuba Diving Resources Group. It's held just prior to DEMA, coinciding with the publication of aquaCorps' 4/MIX issue. The Workshop report (Technical/DIVER) is published and distributed to industry members.

1992 UK's Sport Diver publishes a factual series on nitrox diving by Keith Morris, which dispels many myths.

1992 Kevin Gurr, Richard Bull, and Rob Palmer form the European Association of Technical Divers (EATD) and offer the first nitrox courses in the UK.

1992 In an article in DIVER magazine, the BSAC prohibits its members from using any breathing gas other than air.

1992 NAUI endorses EAN and says it will accept certifications from ANDI and IANTD.

1992 As a result of a NOAA contract, ORCA introduces the first nitrox computer that runs on a single EAN 32 mix.

1992 First organized open water mix expedition on the Andrea Doria (250 t / 77 m) led by US East Coast wrecker Bernie Chowdhury.

1992 US East Coast wrecker Ken Clayton conducts a series of dives on the Frankfurt using neox (anoxygen-neon mix).

1993 aquaCORPS launches the 93 tek. Conference to bring together the technical diving community, where ANDI and IANTD agree on an air quality standard for gas blending after a lengthy forum debate.

1993 ANDI launches its nitrox training program in the UK.

1993 The UK's Sub Aqua Association (SAA) endorses enriched air nitrox and accepts certifications from IANTD program.

1993 BSAC issues its report on enriched air nitrox stating that the use of nitrox is not yet. appropriate for sport divers.

1993 EATD merges into the IANTD and launches its first UK conference and nitrox is the hot topic of discussion.

1993 Ann Kristovich dives to 554 ffw/165 m on air, establishing a new woman's scuba depth record on air.

1993 Skin Diver publishes a three-part series blasting nitrox and mixed use as unsafe for sport divers.

1993 Four new desktop decompression software packages-DPA, Proplan, Dr. X, MiG-are released, offering tekies the opportunity to compute their own tables.

1993 Dive Rite Manufacturing launches the Bridge dive computer, the first variable-mix EAN computer, to be followed by Cochran Undersea Technology with its Nemesis Nitrox computer.

1993 Jim Bowden establishes a new open-circuit depth record of 925f/284m at Zacaton.

1994 Famed cave explorer Sheck Exley dies during attempted 1,000f/307m dive.

1994 The Scottish Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) endorses the use of enriched air nitrox for its members.

1994 Dan Manion sets new deep air record to 525f/161 m, having survived a black out, and sustains significant injury when he is badly bent on a subsequent air dive to 300f/92m-plus.

1994 Rodale's Scuba Diving runs story on getting EAN certified, representing the first mainstream story in support of nitrox training.

1994 Technical Diving International (TDI) formed after President B. Gilliam splits from IANTD over standards and business disputes, and Rob Palmer recruited from IANTD to head up UK program.

1995 Mix goes mainstream, as the BSAC announces it will offer its own enriched air nitrox instruction program, followed by similar announcement by NASE, PADI and the SAA.

1995 Skin Diver editor Bill Gleason declares EAN all right.

1995 Rebreather grand daddy, Drager announces their entry into the consumer rebreather market with the Atlantis I semi-closed nitrox rebreather to be marketed by Swiss-based computer maker UWATEC, representing the first mainline rebreather company to offer a consumer model.

1995 Working closely with the technical and recreational diving communities, UK's Health Safety Executive (HSE) rewrites its reg book and issues an accepted code of practice for EAN instructors.

1997 Rob Palmer is lost in the Red Sea.

PADI Enriched Air Nitrox Course Schedule *** at Bonneville Seabase, Utah

For more information contact us email at

This information page was last updated April 23, 1998.