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Undersea Stuff

June 22, 1986

In the past 62 years, during which I have been first goggling and then skin diving on every continent except Antarctica, I have never written a letter to the editor.

The Jacques Costeau-Emile Gagnan demand-gas valve regulator was distributed under the trade name Aqua-Lung, and although Cousteau will be regarded as the Columbus of inner space due to his publicizing of the underwater world, he was no more the inventor of the demand-gas regulator than Amerigo Vespucci was the discoverer of the New World ("The Captain Won't Settle for Anything But Adventure," by David Crook, June 15).

Various forms of the demand gas regulator date back as far as the 1890s. I and others used various demand regulators in the 1920s and '30s with medical oxygen bottles for breathing supply.

The forgotten man of the Sea Age was Louis de Corlieu, who patented one of the first rubber fins in 1933. Poor Corlieu only envisioned his fin as a surface swimmers aid.

The Japanese artificial pearl industry developed a face mask that fitted from the forehead to just below the nose. The bringing together of the three inventions--the face-mask, the regulator and the fins--created a mind-leap in man's concept of the sea.

RALPH DAVIS

Santa Ana

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