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Celebrating diving's heritage and history:

PADI Gear's Vintage Collection

Craving nostalgia? So are we! That's why we're paying tribute to the innovations and moments that defined not only PADI, but the sport that has formed each of us. After all, the history of diving and PADI are richly intertwined. By celebrating our past, we're also looking towards our future with hope and confidence, grounded in the pivotal experiences that shaped us as a global community of adventurers.

1966: PADI is Founded

Two passionate divers created the Professional Association of Diving Instructors over a bottle of Johnnie Walker to revolutionize and professionalize the diving industry. John Cronin and Ralph Erickson's vision was to form an organization that would give more people a chance to enjoy the underwater world by offering relevant, instructionally valid dive training and create confident scuba divers who dove regularly. And they did just that!

1968: PADI's First Office is Established

The initial start-up meetings took place at several restaurants near Chicago. Cronin subsequently finished a portion of his home basement on Main Street in Niles, IL to become the first headquarters for PADI. These crucial early years laid the foundation that would enable the PADI family to earn the trust of millions of divers worldwide, setting the stage for diving's explosive growth.

1970: PADI Moves to California

In the early years, PADI grew slowly. By the late 1960s, PADI had 400 members, and had introduced recreational diving's first certification requirements. The 70s marked the era in which the PADI organization gained its tremendous momentum. The first spark was a historic move. John Cronin's promotion at US Divers in Huntington Beach, the PADI office moved to California - and is still nearby today.

1973: The Master Scuba Diver is Born!

In 1973, PADI introduced the industry's first non-instructional rating. Master Scuba Diver was awarded to Senior Advanced Divers who had completed six speciality ratings choosing from Underwater Photography, Cave Diver, Ice Diver, Wreck Diver, Search and Recovery Diver, Deep Diver, Research Diver, and Equipment Specialist. While there weren't as many specialities to choose from, this laid the foundation for PADI's diverse and broad range of specialities today.

1979: PADI Goes Global

In the late 70s, PADI expanded internationally with many office openings in Asia Pacific. One of those global PADI overseas regional office was established in Tokyo, Japan in 1979. This evolved from the PADI Sensui Shido Kyokai (Diving Instruction Council) that was created to help translate materials and improve communication across languages. PADI’s globalization quickly fueled a world-wide surge in certifications and awareness.  

1981: PADI Turns 25!

The 1980s were when PADI truly became a leader in dive research. By taking the initiative to study diving, PADI was able to create new texts, tools, and course structures that continue to benefit the dive industry. In 1981, PADI became the first scuba program to have new divers use scuba gear during their first confined water/pool dives. That very same year, PADI celebrated its 25th birthday.

1988: Introduction of the Recreational Dive Planner

The late 80’s saw considerable refinements in the dive equipment (including the first consumer electronic dive computer) coupled by the revolution in training led by PADI, completely altering the public perception of diving.  A truly significant development, however, was the introduction of the Recreational Dive Planner by PADI. Created by Diving Science & Technology, the RDP reapplied established decompression modeling specifically for use by recreational divers, followed by human testing to verify the model's accuracy. Introduced in 1988, the RDP quickly became the world's most popular dive tables. 

1989: Project Aware is Formed

Founder John Cronin always felt PADI had a responsibility to protect the marine environment. "If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will?" In 1989, PADI established the non-profit Project AWARE foundation (Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education) to increase environmental awareness through diver education. Together, PADI and Project AWARE are still working closely to unite divers to protect our oceans.

1995: Enriching the Diving Experience

PADI announced full educational support for the use of oxygen enriched air (“nitrox”) in 1995 with the launch of its Enriched Air Diver course, making enriched air nitrox a staple of the sport. The benefits of enriched air diving were embraced as divers globally improved their diving experience. Today, enriched air is widely used and has become the most popular PADI specialty allowing divers to seek even more adventure.