Friday, 9 June 2017


My obituary of Jack O'Neill, pioneer of the wet-suit and founder of the company that grew into a major world-wide lifestyle clothing firm, went up at the Guardian online Wednesday. You can link to it here.
It ought to appear in the paper sometime soon. It is again pretty much as I wrote it; the only change I regret was the excising of the notice that Marjorie, his first wife, also predeceased him, in 1972.

The story of the fight over who 'invented' the wet suit was a fascinating one, difficult to reduce to one paragraph. There isn't really much question that Brandner, who had also worked on the Manhattan Project, was the first one there, but he was working on diving suits. Whether O'Neill, like the Meistrell Brothers, was aware of Brandner's work or not remains an open question. But literal invention apart, there's no question O'Neill was a constant innovator.

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