Bob Hollis took up scuba diving in the late 1950's when recreational diving was still in its infancy. His love for diving soon led to a keen interest in underwater photography, a hobby that required him to create his own specialized equipment. With a degree in mechanical engineering, it was natural for Bob to start designing and manufacturing some of the first underwater camera and strobe housings in the machine shop behind the Anchor Shack, a retail sporting goods store he'd opened in Hayward, California in 1965. Before long, divers and others were asking Hollis to make equipment for them, and a successful mail order business was begun.
In 1972, Bob Hollis founded American Underwater Products, doing business as Oceanic. The company started out with a dozen diving products, including the Anchor Shack's photo line. Four years, Bob took a big leap forward when he acquired Farallon, a manufacturer in nearby Belmont. Instantly that gave Oceanic a full line of diving equipment, including an innovative line of instrumentation products. "I saw digital instrumentation as the key to the future of diving," explains Hollis. "Divers need to quickly and accurately calculate many variables, such as their depth, safe dive times, and decompression requirements to avoid the bends." After the acquisition, Oceanic went to work researching and developing radically new instruments. In 1981, the company introduced the DataMax, the first mechanical depth gauge with automatic digital timer. The product was an instant hit and propelled Oceanic to the forefront of dive equipment suppliers.
In the early 1980s, he helped introduce the concept of an electronic dive computer to the industry. The dive computer revolutionized diving safety and today is considered a mandatory piece of equipment for all divers. If you speak with Bob you will soon discover that his proudest professional accomplishment is the role he played in developing this technology.
Today, Bob Hollis has taken his California born companies global. Oceanic's high performance instruments, regulators, buoyancy compensators, masks, fins, snorkels, thermal wear, and accessories are sold through more than 600 U.S. dive retailers, and worldwide through Oceanic's affiliate companies in Australia, Singapore, Japan, England, Germany, and Italy.
Oceanic has worked with NASA, the U.S. Navy, and others to research new technologies and incorporate them into recreational diving equipment. To build products that continue to revolutionize diving, Hollis has created several sister companies under the American Underwater Products family.
A true pioneer in the industry, Bob Hollis led the first dive travel tours, introduced scuba equipment into resort locations, explored and filmed the wreck of the Andrea Doria, and spearheaded the development of dive computers.