The emergence of technical diving in the mid-1980s through mid-1990s was a unique and arguably one of the most exciting periods in the history of diving. At the time, as the founder and publisher of aquaCORPS magazine (1990-1996), I described it as a ‘technological revolution’ akin to the personal computer (PC) revolution in the world of computing.
In the space of a little more than a decade, sport diving along with the scientific community, transitioned from “air diving”—a single gas to handle all exposures—to mixed gas diving, which was developed by military and commercial divers to improve diving safety and performance. In doing so, we collectively pushed our diving envelope from “no-stop” exposures with maximum depths of 130 f/40 m to full-on decompression dives to depths of 250-300 f/76-100m and beyond. In the words of tech diving pioneer, Capt. Billy Deans, “We doubled our underwater playground.”
There was also tremendous interest in rebreather technology, which at the time was essentially the sole province of military divers. It would take nearly another decade for rebreathers to become a common tool for exploration, and extend our envelope even further.
The story of technical diving is the story of passionate explorers, adventurers, inventors and engineers, educators and scientists who were driven by the need to “go deeper and stay longer”—a common theme that runs through the history of diving—to accomplish their goals, whether that was seeing the end of the cave, exploring a virgin shipwreck or discovering new fish species on a deep coral reef. These were the people that invented technical diving, and the stories of their challenges, triumphs and tragedies filled the pages of aquaCORPS.
Each issue of aquaCORPS featured a Q&A interview that I conducted with one or more remarkable individuals who helped push our collective envelope in exploration, science, technology, education, or photography and filmmaking. Of the 18 individuals who’s interviews are shown above, 14 are still with us today, as this content is being prepared for posting.
The interviews, which were conducted from 1989-1999, have been digitally re-mastered and are presented here thanks to Technical Diving International (TDI), for your reading enjoyment and information. Please note that these are only a small subset of the pioneers who helped create technical diving. Many of these were regular contributors to aquaCORPS, and presenters in the original tek.Conferences and Rebreather Forums 1.0 & 2.0, which I produced.
In addition, I have included the interview that Phil Nuytten, founder & CEO of Nuytco Research and publisher of DIVER magazine conducted with me titled “aquaCORPS: The Autopsy,” that ran in the June, 2005 issue of DIVER. Also included is the original “teaser” written by me, which appeared in the prior April issue. In the interview we discussed the backstory of aquaCORPS and how the magazine came to be. — Michael Menduno