In 1943 Jacques -Yves Cousteau - a French naval officer - and Emile Gagnan - an engineer from Air Liquide - invented a piece of diving equipment that incorporated a demand regulator. It became known as the “Aqua Lung”. 2 years later came the CG-45 model and a company dedicated to the evolution of diving equipment began in France– La Spirotechnique. In the USA, US divers was created to exclusively sell the product.
By 1950 La Spirotechnique had developed the first modern drysuit called the Constant Volume Suit. This was followed five years later by the Mistral regulator which had a venturi mechanism. It was the first ever single stage to regulate pressure in the cylinder to that of ambient (surrounding) pressure. Once Cousteau’s Silent World had been released in 1956, colour images of the underwater landscape gave rise to the popularity of recreational diving.
When Air Liquide acquired US Divers in 1956, a diving conglomerate was born and offices opened in multiple countries. Their newest products were put into circulation: the SS-40 – a horse collar floatation device – and the Aquamatic – the world’s first single hose regulator. Twelve years after the invention of the CG-45, the Aqua Master became the best-selling two hose regulator ever. Spiro’s factory was built in Paris in 1961 but they weren’t content just manufacturing breathing equipment: the Calypso-Phot underwater camera was also made (known today as the Nikonos).
Many of us have dived a Calypso regulator somewhere in the world – whether on holiday or learning to dive in a tropical destination. Well, the first one of these was designed back in 1961. It had a balanced first stage and became known in Europe as the Aquilon. Then followed the Royal Mistral.
Technisub is now best known for producing the masks, fins and snorkel ranges within Aqua Lung. In 1962 Spiro joined forces with an Italian rubber manufacturer and from that union first came the Caravelle fin (a fin with that name was still produced until very recently).
The Conshelf name is famous for 2 things – Cousteau’s underwater habitat off the coast of Sudan - and the Conshelf IV - which became the foundation for all Aqua Lung regulators moving forward in1965. What came next was a yellow boxed twin set used by Cousteau’s expedition teams. This was known as the RAID tank system. In its day, it was considered very streamlined and safe with a reserve mechanism added. Composite plastics then came into play with Spiro using them from 1974 onwards.
La Spirotechnique gained more and more diving manufacturers including Fenzy (maker of the modern buoyancy device) in 1976 and Technisub in 1979. Huge innovations continued into the 90’s as Aqua Lung expanded its portfolio by acquiring both Seaquest (a BCD manufacturer) and Deep See (boots, glove and bag designers). This culminated in 1997 with the purchase of UK brand Apeks and the rest, as they say, is history!
Further regulator designs developed in the late 90s/early noughties and further acquisitions – White’s drysuits, Omersub (freediving and spearfishing gear) and Pelagic Pressure instrumentation (founded by Mike Hollis). In 2018 the brand celebrated its 75th anniversary.
We have a wide range of Aqua Lung products here at Mike’s Dive Store including (among others) regulators, wetsuits, BCDs and dive computers. With such a long and successful history, you can guarantee this brand is solidly reliable.