It all started in 1934, in the rocky coves near Marseilles, on the Mediterranean coast of Southern France. An emblematic forerunner of underwater activities, Georges Beuchat desired to communicate his fascination for the sea and spearfishing to the public, later inventing the iconic speargun, as well as the celebrated isothermal wetsuit, thereby catapulting scuba diving into a brand new era.

Georges Beuchat (1910-1992) was a French diver, businessman, and an untiring inventor, whose work pioneered the development of underwater activities. His inventions are numerous – and as divers, we have much to thank him for. Here are just some of the notable achievements:

1934

Beuchat is founded on the Mediterranean seaside, France (it continues to this day as a world-leading and creative company).

1947

Georges Beuchat invented the underwater speargun, the famed Tarzan, through developing the world’s first elastic propulsion system.

1950

Beuchat invented the first commercially available underwater camera housing – up until then, taking underwater photos or videos had been restricted to elite groups of explorers, inventors and scientists.

1953

Motivated by the want to protect himself within a cold water environment, Georges created several prototypes of the isothermal diving suit (aka the wetsuit), and eventually finalised the commercial version this year. Sufficed to say, this was groundbreaking for the development of underwater diving.

George Beuchat and the first suit in 1953 © Beuchat

1955

Beuchat’s suit became famous as Jacques-Yves Cousteau used Georges’ isothermal wetsuit in his first submarine adventures, including his first underwater movie, The Silent World.

1963

The invention of foam gave Georges Beuchat the ideal material to calibrate a more stretchy and flexible wetsuit. The Tarzan wetsuit boasting yellow stripes was hence launched in 1963.

1964

Beuchat invented the JetFin – vented fins that allowed the same efficiency with less movement effort.

1966

Beuchat created the very first diving wetsuit for females, allowing lady divers to attempt the underwater environment in greater ease.

George Beuchat tests canvas rubber in 1942 © Beuchat

 

 

This originally appeared in Asian Diver 2/2014. Click HERE to get the latest issues, which include articles on history, conservation, dive destinations, and much more.

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