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René Bussoz: Founder of US Divers
   
     
 

Legends of Diving Articles

 

René Bussoz
Founder of US Divers

René was the son of a famous French inventor of the slot machine at the end of the 19th century. His family had moved to Paris in search of employment and René was born in the "City of Lights" on March 15, 1906. René lived with his parents and older sister until he was 22 years old. A gifted student, he easily passed the entrance exam at the high commercial school which he attended for three years, with an excellent academic record. He already had an eye for the ladies at a young age and, very clever in philosophy as well, used it to his advantage.


Advertising René's golf course

He later married and had two children which still live in France. After graduating, he opened a sports shop called Bussoz Sports at the Champs-Elysees in Paris. His father helped him financially and, once the shop was up and running, René continued on to Switzerland and opened another shop in Geneva called "Lucky Sport."

René was first introduced to the United States when he delivered slot machine parts for his father to Las Vegas. His contact with the Las Vegas atmosphere caused René to become enamored with the lifestyles of the movie stars he came in contact with. In 1939 he moved from Paris to Los Angeles and opened René's Sporting Goods in Westwood, California. His business was very successful within the Hollywood circle, enabling him to buy a house in the lush Bel-Air area, rubbing shoulders with the famous Hollywood stars of the day.

René often traveled to Paris to pick up parts for his father and also purchased masks and fins that were being manufactured in France. It was on one of these trips to Paris that he saw a piece of scuba diving equipment in the front window of a sporting goods store. Fascinated, he went into the shop and, after making inquiries, the clerk told him to contact Jacques Cousteau, providing Bussoz with his phone number.


René with his mom, dad and sister, Simone

René called Cousteau and arranged for 20 units of the Aqua Lung regulator to be delivered to his Westwood sporting goods shop. In 1947 a representative of Spiro technique (a division of Air Liquide, owners of the Aqua Lung) arrived at Bussoz's shop with six demonstrator regulators. René's financial backer, Maurice Oliver, was not enthusiastic about the Aqua Lung, believing it to be a passing fad. In fact, when Jacques Cousteau called René a week after the regulators arrived and asked if he wished to order more of the units, René replied that the market was saturated and no more were needed.

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