NEWTON SQUARE, Pa., Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The man who developed an underwater breathing device and coined the term "scuba" to describe it has died at his home in Pennsylvania.
Christian J. Lambertsen died at his home in Newton Square Feb. 11 of renal failure at the age of 93, The Washington Post reported.
He invented the Lambertsen Amphibious Respirator Unit in 1939. In 1952 Lambertsen and a colleague wrote a paper for the National Academy of Sciences describing the "Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus," which they shortened to "scuba."
Before Lambertsen's invention, divers wore heavy metal helmets and were tethered to a boat on the surface to pump air through a rubber hose.
The Navy initially rejected Lambertsen's invention. But he demonstrated the LARU to officials in the Office of Strategic Services in 1942, and it was soon widely accepted. The OSS was the World War II predecessor of the CIA.
Lambertsen was born May 15, 1917, in Westfield, N.J. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1938.
His wife, Naomi Hill Lambertsen, died in 1985. He is survived by four sons -- Christian, David, Richard and Bradley -- and six grandchildren.