My Father, The Captain:  Birth of a Vision

Expeditions:My Father, The Captain: Birth of a Vision

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, A Renaissance Man

Throughout his career, Jacques-Yves Cousteau proved himself to be a Renaissance man, talented and successful in a wide variety of endeavors. Listed below is a small selection of the inventions, books and films he created in collaboration with other innovators.


Selection of Scientific and Technological Innovations
by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Collaborators

  • 1943:

    The Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, the SCUBA or Aqualung, with Emile Gagnan.

  • 1948:

    With the French Navy:

    1. Ultrasonic device to position submersibles with ultrasonic emission device used with the first Piccard bathyscape.
    2. First underwater scooter or propulsion system for combat divers.
  • 1949:

    First decompression chamber for simulated dives to 300 meters.

  • 1952:

    Development of first industrial equipment for undersea television with engineer André Laban.

  • 1955:

    Construction of first underwater 35mm camera, predecessor of the Nikonos underwater camera.

  • 1959:

    1. Completion and operation of first two-man submersible, the SP-350 or diving saucer, to 350 meters.
    2. First underwater photographic sled, the Troika, with Dr. Harold Edgerton.
  • 1962:

    Conshelf I research habitat houses two men for 10 days at 25 meters.

  • 1963:

    Conshelf II with two habitats: one houses 6 men for one month at 10 meters, working at 25 meters; the other houses 2 men for one week at 25 meters, working at 70 meters.

  • 1965:

    1. Conshelf III with 6 men living for 27 days at 100 meters.
    2. Construction of two one-man diving saucers, the SP-500, Sea Fleas.
  • 1967:

    First integrated 16mm underwater camera.

  • 1984:

    Launching of Alcyone, an experimental ship using innovative wind turbines in conjunction with conventional engines, with André Mauric.


Feature Films by Jacques-Yves Cousteau

  • The Silent World

    (with Louis Malle and James Dugan). 1956. Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

  • World Without Sun

    (with James Dugan). New York: Harper and Row, 1964. Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

  • Voyage to the Edge of the World

    (with Philippe Cousteau). 1975.


Television series by Jacques-Yves Cousteau

  • 1966-68:

    The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau

  • 1968-76:

    The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau
    37 X 49 minute episodes

  • 1977:

    Oasis in Space
    6 X 29 minute episodes

  • 1977-81:

    The Cousteau Odyssey Series
    12 X 56 minute episodes

  • 1982-84:

    The Cousteau/Amazon Series

  • 1985-91:

    Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World I

  • 1992-94:

    Rediscovery of the World II


Publications by Jacques-Yves Cousteau (selected)

  • The Silent World

    (with Frederic Dumas). New York: Harper, 1952.

  • The Living Sea

    (with James Dugan). New York: Harper and Row, 1963.

  • World Without Sun

    (James Dugan, editor). New York: Harper and Row, 1965.

  • The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea

    (with Philippe Cousteau). Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1970.

  • Jacques Cousteau's Amazon Journey

    (with Mose Richards). New York: H.N. Abrams, 1984.

  • The Human, the Orchid and the Octopus

    (with Susan Schiefelbein), New York: Bloomsbury, 2007.

Photo: Courtesy Tim Trabon