Jacques Cousteau

The Moment

Jacques Cousteau wades into the Mediterranean off a beach on the French Riviera, wearing flippers and the world’s first scuba device.

The Unseen Story

Born in southwestern France in 1910, Jacques Cousteau began swimming in the ocean at the age of four, launching a lifelong fascination with water. Ten years later he was given a movie camera and promptly took it apart to see how it worked, then began to use it to document everything around him. These three obsessions — the ocean, technology, and filmmaking — would drive the rest of his life.

A poor student, Cousteau joined the French navy as soon as he could, taking his camera along on trips through the Indian and South Pacific oceans. In 1933, Cousteau was in a serious car crash that nearly killed him. Daily swims in the Mediterranean were part of his physical recovery, and during that time a friend gave Cousteau goggles, introducing yet another passion to his life: the underwater world. From that point on, Cousteau was relentless in his search for a way to further explore the ocean, constantly experimenting with and testing ways to dive deeper for longer. In 1943 he met French engineer, Emile Gagnan, who shared Cousteau’s passion for tinkering and discovery, and together the two conducted multiple experiments with compressed air cylinders, snorkel hoses, body suits and breathing apparatus. Gagnan eventually invented a demand regulator that would feed air through the hose as needed, then Cousteau modified the regulator, adapting it for deep-sea diving. By June of 1943, Cousteau was wading into the Mediterranean, off the French Riviera, wearing fins and the world’s first Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA, known then as the Aqua Lung).

It was to be the first of several technologies Cousteau spearheaded as part of his push to continue pushing the boundaries of ocean exploration. In addition to continuing to streamline scuba equipment over the years, Cousteau was instrumental in the development of the underwater camera. He also led the world’s first underwater archaeology expedition (to find the Roman shipwreck Mahdia in 1948) and convinced millions of TV and film fans to care about marine life via the production of various television shows and documentary films.

Our Heroes

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen

1911 – Antarctica

Roald Amundsen successfully reaches the geographic South Pole.
Cameron

Cameron

1984 – The Terminator

The movie grosses $38 million and launches the career of its 29 year-old director.
Michael Collins

Michael Collins

1969 – Our Moon

Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin are the first humans to set foot on the moon.
Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau

1943 – The French Riviera

Jacques Cousteau wades into the Mediterranean, wearing flippers and the world’s first scuba device.
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

1953 – London

Rosalind Franklin invents the X-ray techniques that lead to the discover of the double helix model of DNA.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

1944 – Harvard

Computer pioneer Grace Hopper invents the first compiler for a computer programming language.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

1942 – Hollywood

Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr develops the frequency hopping communications technology behind GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth

Matt Parker

Matt Parker

2012 – London Olympics

Matt Parker utilizes strategic training methods and disciplines which results in 8 gold medals.
Malcolm McLean

Malcolm McLean

1956 – Houston

Malcolm McLean’s Ideal X tanker makes its maiden voyage.
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

1893 – World Fair, Chicago

Tesla wows the crowd with his Tesla Coil, including wireless lighting and his induction motor.
Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas

1944 – Baltimore

Vivien Thomas develops the first surgical procedure used to treat blue baby syndrome.

Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers

1903 – North Carolina

The iconic flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 as the first manned aircraft at Kitty Hawk.