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Remembering 007 and Thunderball

On December 22nd 1965, (just in time for Christmas)Eon Productions released the James Bond classic film “Thunderball” which was based upon the 1957 novel of the same name. Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus “scuba” systems were just over a decade old in the recreational sector and their advent had excited many film and television makers with the ability to more easily work underwater. Thunderball was one of those films, with a multitude of underwater scenes that took the viewing audience along beneath the waves in a high stakes drama which pitted MI6 secret service agent James Bond against henchmen from the global crime organization “Spectre” the acronym for “Special Executive Counter-Terrorism Revenge Extortion”

Throughout the film, gadgets and gear were showcased on parade, much of it underwater tech which was supplied by U.S. dive gear maker “Voit-Swimaster.” Voit had won the contract to supply all the diving gear for the actors and crew and their equipment, just like a handful of other U.S. makers was based upon the French designed “Aqualung” system developed by Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan in 1942. The Aqualung breathing systems were a double hose design and all other makers followed that principle. In 1951, Australian inventor Ted Eldridge created the first single hose regulator but did not export them to the U.S.

The first American made single hose regulator was manufactured and released in the mid 1950s by an aerospace maker “Rose Aviation” with their “Rose Pro” offering. Within just a few years several other manufacturers began supplying single hose regulators and all of them were market flops as the general public were only interested in the familiar Two hose design.. single hose breathing systems simply were very slow to be accepted or adopted by recreational divers. Enter Thunderball and Sean Connery as the super-spy action hero James Bond 007 who, near the film’s crescendo dramatic final underwater battle scenes where literally undersea armies go at it with knives and spearguns… and there is Bond sporting a Voit Dolphin single hose regulator when everyone else including Spectre’s Number 2 man Largo were left using old tired double-hose systems.. almost instantly an adoring fan base practically demanded single hose regulators from their dive gear suppliers once they’d seen one in use by 007! Despite various single hose regulators being available for over a decade.. much of the demand for them could be placed squarely on James Bond’s shoulders.. today single hose regs are the standard in the industry.. many Thunderball items can be seen on display at the Avalon Diving History Exhibit.

A tip of the hat to 007, for helping advance an industry.. the rest is as they say… history.

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