Scuba diving pioneer, underwater photographer and expert dive equipment specialist, Bob Hollis, has died surrounded by his family at the age of 85 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Bob Hollis is best known today as the founder of the eponymous tech diving kit manufacturer, Hollis, but he was also the founder of other notable dive brands Oceanic and Aeris (subsequently merged with Oceanic), housed under the American Underwater Products (AUP) company he first founded in 1972. He also started dive instrumentation business Pelagic Pressure Systems in 1979, and founded ROMI Enterprises – a machining plant for the metal components of AUP products – with his son, Mike, in 1984.
Hollis was born in Orland, California on April 25, 1937, and first learned to dive in 1955. He quickly became obsessed with the underwater world, building his own scuba equipment and, after meeting some of the pioneers of underwater photography in California, his own camera housings. By 1966 he had established his own dive shop – the Anchor Shack – from which he sold his camera housings alongside his dive equipment.
He founded Oceanic under the parent company of American Underwater Products in 1972, incorporating several other companies into the business over the next few years, and by 1980 had become one of the largest and most popular brands of scuba diving equipment in the world.
Recognising the rise of digital equipment and the need for underwater accuracy, Hollis oversaw the development of the Oceanic Datamax, the first mechanical depth gauge with a digital timer, which came to market in 1981 and helped begin the drive towards digital dive computers.
AUP was acquired by Huish Outdoors in 2017, consolidating its position as one of the leading manufacturers of dive equipment. In a statement folliwing Hollis’ death, a spokesperson for Huish described Hollis as ‘a groundbreaking influence in both the sport of scuba diving and underwater photography,’ adding that Hollis ‘left a legacy not only as as a pioneer but as an entrepreneur, businessman and family man.’