Huge turtle in sea sparks scuba interest, spawns dive computer firm

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Bruce Partridge was taking a sailing instructor course in Vancouver when a scuba diver who was also on the course suggested he should enjoy the diving while there. “I said ‘I am not a diver and I have no plans to jump off a perfectly good boat.’ ”

But he did try diving and changed his mind about it when he met a huge turtle in the depths of the sea. Thrilled at the sight, he was quickly hooked on the sport. Bruce had sold his computer consulting business and retired. But his retirement was short-lived. He was then deeply into diving. His first job in computing goes back to the industry’s infancy in 1973. To put that in perspective, the first PC (personal computer) was introduced in 1981. Before that COBOL and FORTRAN were two of the languages used in the early huge computers.

Partridge was not impressed with the dive computers that were on the market. “I found that they were difficult to use and I thought I could do better.” To achieve that goal, he brought a lot of computing knowledge to the table.

shearwater-perdix-1

The Shearwater Perdix

He started Shearwater Research in 2003 and incorporated it in 2004. His company, which is based in Richmond, British Columbia, now has 40 employees and business is good. Shearwater Research markets its dive computers in more than 70 countries around the world. The price of a dive computer is about $1,000.

His goal was to build a dive computer that was powerful and had a display that was bright and easy to read. It was important to him that the device would be as simple as possible to operate, which is especially important for divers who go deep into ever darkening water.

Bruce says almost all divers, including open water divers, use dive computers today. They show a diver’s allowable depth and time and some show air pressure.

“We don’t have multiple models of dive computers, just evolutions of them, he says.” Perdix is Shearwater Research’s current flagship. NERD is a re-breather display device. The company also makes re-breather controllers.

For Shearwater Research CEO Bruce Partridge, making dive computers for recreational diving is an interesting business, much more so than his earlier work in the computer field.

For this he can thank a huge turtle.

Learn more about Shearwater Research at:  http://www.shearwater.com

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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