A typical day at SDI/TDI/ERDI Headquarters consists of lots of emails, phone calls and, of course, meetings. Over the years these meetings have gone through a lot of different topics and formats, but what happened last week was something I was not expecting … yet. Generally, in a Marketing meeting we throw around topic ideas for different things we feel would make for great content. In this particular meeting I found myself listening and then ultimately being asked to write about a topic because I was the most qualified due to my age! Let that sit for a minute… my age. When did I become the guy old enough to know about something? How did that happen? Well, after I got over that small issue, we started discussing the topic of difficulty people of my age or older (43 for those of you counting) have relating to the generation of Millennials. Take it from me, as I am reminded of it every day at the office, they think and act differently than we do.
This article is the first of three that will address the differences in generations in the industry: Things divers born after 1985 will not understand. A presentation at DEMA titled Inside theMillennial Mind – How to connect with #Millennials to increase business, presented by Lauren Kieren (Millennial) and myself (old guy). Finally an article by Lauren titled, Things divers bornbefore 1985 will never understand.
Just so I could have some additional insight into this topic I consulted a few other “old guys” for help. Dan Orr, Harry Averill, and also Bret Gilliam were kind enough to send me their thoughts on this topic for which I am grateful for their input.
The name of the first electronic dive computer, the EDGE, was actually an acronym for “Electronic Dive GuidE” – Dan Orr would know as he named it.
CO 2 cartridges were standard equipment for BCD’s. In early models of BCD’s it was standard equipment to have a CO2 cartridge with a mechanism designed to fill the BCD in an emergency situation to provide buoyancy. After years of questionable results such as random trigger of inflation at times when it was not needed or also not working when it was needed, or being a pain to maintain due to corrosion, they fell out of favor. There was a time when it was impossible to find a buoyancy device without a CO2 cartridge
Purge valves on masks were mainstream. In the early 70s purge valves were introduced as a feature on the front of masks.
Octopus regulators were not mandatory.
Pressure gauges were not mandatory, instead divers relied on J valves. SPGs were mandated around 1977 by all training agencies.
A Horse Collar BCD was the only option for a BCD. There were numerous options beginning in 1973 including the At-Pac and Scubapro Back Mounted BC called a Buoyancy Compensating Pack or BCP. In 1977 Scubapro introduced the Stabilizing Jacket that changed everything to this style for most divers.
Back inflation BCDs started long before technical diving
SOS Decompression Meter – Dive computer (aka Bend-O-Matic) was actually sold as a dive computer but had no electronic parts, instead it operated mechanically.
Cave divers got their gear from the hardware store.
Dive gear only came in men’s sizes; women’s sizes were introduced around 1979 for such gear as wet suits and BCDs.
Technical diving had not started yet. Or more appropriately, the term Technical Diving had not been coined yet.
You could have dive gear in any color as long as it was black.
You could buy a wet suit in a kit and put it together yourself… hopefully.
If you wore a buoyancy device of any kind, other divers wondered if you were scared or couldn’t swim.
Buoyancy devices came with a crotch strap.
Divers were suspicious of single hose regulators and would sometimes be heard saying, “Can you really get enough air through that small hose?”
Some divers actually wore pantyhose in order to help them get the early wetsuits on.
At one time, it took lung power to inflate a buoyancy device.
You had to roll over on your back to let air out of your buoyancy device.
It was a life vest before it was a buoyancy compensator.
If you took the original 71.2 cu. ft. aluminum cylinder off under water, it would reach the surface before you.
You had to thread your shoulder straps properly to allow for quick release.
You had to constantly check your “J” valve to make sure it wasn’t accidentally pulled down.
Divers would look at your tank valve and try to figure out if it actually looks like a “K” or “J”.
When the Totes Company actually made dry suits.
When you had to learn about ‘suit squeeze’ before dry suits had variable volume capability.
When dive knives were longer than your snorkel
To protect yourself from denizens of the deep, you carried a shark billy or a Faralon Shark Dart.
When you didn’t have to be a duck to wear ‘duck feet’.
When you cave divers were just as likely to find a car inner tube in their ‘wings’ as their automobile (Note: the first pair of wings I used actually had an automobile inner tube as a bladder). The very first cave-diving BCs were actually Clorox bottles.
When your dive light could probably double as an aircraft landing light.
You had to decide to keep or remove the neck strap from your regulator 2nd stage.
You had to get into your dry suit through the crotch.
You could buy weights shaped like hand grenades.
You inflated your buoyancy device with a separate air bottle attached to the bottom.
You could choose any breathing gas as long as it was air.
Sportsways, Healthways, Voit, Parkway, Harvey’s, Swimaster, Nemrod, Imperial, Dacor were part of every diver’s vocabulary
If someone asked you, “Are You A Turtle?”, you’d have to answer, “You bet your sweet a** I am!” or you’d owe them a drink. (Comment: This was the marketing campaign by Imperial to promote their Imperial Turtle wet suits)
Nitrox and mixed gas didn’t exist for the recreational diver
Sonic alerts, e.g. DiveAlert
Use of oxygen for decompression
Split fins – what are those?
Integrated weight system consisted of a belt with lead on it.
There was no mandatory insurance for dive instructors
IANTD, TDI, ANDI, IDEA, MDEA, ACUC, RSTC were not created yet.
There were very few liveaboard dive vessels and those only traveled to a limited selection of areas.
Most wet suits were nylon-lined, but had textured neoprene on the outside.
No cylinders larger than 80 cubic feet were available.
Dual valve manifolds were not available, instead diving with independent doubles was the only choice.
No Spare Air devices
There was no color film faster than 200 ASA
Portable recompression chambers were the size of a Semi Truck.
No such thing as a referral programs to complete open water training in another location by another instructor
Solo diving was actually what you learned how to do in your Open Water Instructor course
In the span of ten years (approximately 1975 to 1985), items such as alternate-air-source second stages, power inflators, tank-integrated BCs and instrument consoles had gone from being a rarity to being the norm. This is the greatest amount of change in diving equipment in a short period of time that has ever happened. A 1985 diver would look more like one of today’s divers, some 30 years later, than he would look like a diver from ten years earlier.
As with any list, we are sure to hear of more items that we missed and encourage our readers to add to it. The one big thing to come out of these articles and presentations is that the industry has come a long way due to innovation and passion from the people within it. Now is the time to start looking to the next generation and tap into their passion, we just need to find a way to communicate with them.
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