Method of communication between diver and surface

The traditional methods of communication between the diver and the surface was by an agreed series of pulls on the diver's life line. The diver and his attendant could signal to each other and could communicate very effectively. The first type of voice communication was achieved at the turn of the 19th century. This was achieved by using a rubber speaking tube which was devised from the speaker tube method used on ships for communication between the bridge and engine room . The device was not a success however and was quite short lived. At around 1920 Siebe Gorman were experimenting on a more efficient telephone system. The first system used a pair of speakers set into a cap which the diver wore, similar to that of an aircraft pilot. The transmitter or microphone was fitted adjacent to the front window. This system was superseded by a speaker-receiver device which was fitted in the top of the bonnet. It could easily be unscrewed and replaced by a quarter turn.
Alfred Graham and Robert H. Davis were then working on a more advanced system which allowed two divers to speak to each other under water and with the surface also.. The diver could call the tender on the surface by pressing a chin button which worked a bell or buzzer on the telephone box at the surface. This system was used extensively throughout the Royal Navy for many years. Another form of telephone was also used which employed a headband with 2 speakers and a receiver which was pressed against the diver's throat. The receiver was aptly called a Laryngaphone.

There were several ways of transmitting the sound to the diver but the best way was found to be to embed the telephone cable into the diver's breast rope.
Diver's telephones were notoriously unreliable. In remote locations they had to be powered by a series of batteries. The sound quality was often poor as it had to compete with the compressed air entering the helmet. The inside of the helmet was often damp which further impeded the sound quality. The diver could if required shut off the air temporally to hear the attendant on the surface. Often the cable was required to with stand heavy strains and twisting forces. Sometimes, however divers would blame these potential failings as an excuse to ignore the tender who often asked unending questions of the worker below. Making good connection was most important and the 3 pin plug was replaced by a 4 pin plug with an extra spade pin for an additional earth.

Complete Mark 4 telephone equipment for 2 divers.

Manufacturers from all around the world by this time were making their own telephone equipment.

Complete Swedish telephone Dykartelephon system.

Photo courtesy of Mikael Zingmark.

Manufacture: AJ Morse & Son
Date of manufacture: Around 1920
Type: 2 Diver
Case type: American oak with Brass fittings.
Description: A large case measuring 24 inches X 18 inches X 12 inches this set has a hinged lid containing the attendant’s head set and 2 headsets for the Divers. The lid is secured by a hasp and staple. The dry cell batteries are stored in the other compartment.


Manufacture: Siebe Gorman & Co Ltd
Date of manufacture: Approx. 1910-1930
Type: Single Diver
Case type: Mahogany with brass fittings
Description: An upright mahogany case some 12 inches high and 10 inches wide houses the 3 wet cell batteries. There is a bell inside the box. The handset for use by the tender is stored partly inside the box with the speaker part outside the box. There is a brass makers nameplate on the box lid..


Manufacture: Siebe Gorman & Co Ltd
Date of manufacture: 1930
Type: Single Diver
Case type: Oak with brass fittings
Description: A compact oak case containing 3 X 1.5 volt dry cell batteries. The case has 2 blank keeper plugs , one for storing the telephone cap and one for storing the helmet cap . There is a bell inside the box to call the attendant on the surface. Inside the box is stored a headset for the attendant. In the Siebe Gorman catalogue this piece of equipment is called 'Teled' for the purposes of ordering equipment.


Manufacture: Siebe Gorman & Co Ltd
Date of manufacture: 1930-1940
Type: 2 Diver
Case type: Mahogany with Gunmetal fittings
Description: The mahogany case is 17 inches wide and 12 inches deep and 10 inches high. The telephone unit is designed for 2 divers . The no 1 diver calls by a bell and the number 2 diver a buzzer. This allows the attendant to instantly know which diver is calling. By positioning a switch in the box the 2 divers can talk and hear one another. In order to call the attendant the diver presses on a chin button initiating the bell or buzzer. The system is powered by a series of dry cell batteries which are stored in the rear of the box.


Manufacture: LM Ericsson (Dykartelephon)
Date of manufacture: 1935
Type: 2 Diver
Case type: Oak with brass fittings
Description: A 2 diver telephone system made by LM Ericsson who are the same company that make mobile phones to day. The case measures 81/2 inches high
( 21cm) X 15 inches (38 cm ) and 7 inches (17cm) wide.


Manufacture: Drager
Date of manufacture: Currently unknown (estimated ay circa 1950)
Type: Single diver
Case type: Steel with bakelite controls
Description: Described by the makers as Tauchertelefon Model TS 1 .A Steel case with attendants head phones operating off 6 V DC. The lid unhinges to reveal the controls and protect the knobs in transit. A very robust unit designed for functionality rather than looks.
Contributed by and thanks to: Karina Kowalska of the Muzeum Nurkowania of Warsaw in Poland.



Manufacture: Draegerwerke Lubeck
Date of manufacture: 1966
Type: 1 Diver.
Case type: Plywood.
Description: Battery operated one diver telephone - Taucher Telephon.
Contributed by and thanks to: David Falcó i Rodriguez.

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