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July 1999 Vol. 25, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The End of the Edge 

and Skinny Dipper, Marathon, & Phoenix

from the July, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

It hasn’t been that many years since you could look around a dive boat between dives and see divers who were wracking their brains, desperately trying to recall how to work surface intervals into repetitive nitrogen times. They didn’t want to let on, of course, that they didn’t have a clue about how to go about it, but they were easily recognizable by their hunched positions as they bent over their tiny plastic tables, praying for inspiration.

Then, in 1983, Orca Industries introduced the Edge, and multilevel diving and dive computers were in. I jumped on the bandwagon immediately. Sure, the unit had a few weak links: the battery compartment flooded too often and it ate 9-volt batteries the way a kid eats candy, but it was easy to use, and the increased bottom time made the $675 price tag look reasonable. Hell, it was more than reasonable: it was wonderful. It changed diving.

Within a few years of the Edge’s introduction, technological developments and a multitude of other manufacturers reduced dive computers’ size from the Edge’s hefty 1.6 pounds down to wrist models and console inserts. The reduction prompted some sardonic postings on online scuba groups suggesting “One Hundred Things to Do with the Brick (Edge).”

Orca developed a smaller, cheaper version, the Skinny Dipper, which was plagued by battery problems, then pioneered the Delphi, an air-integrated unit. Unfortunately, early editions of the Delphi had some problems with the high-pressure sensors that undercut its marketability.

EIT, Inc., an electronics firm based in Virginia, bought Orca in the early nineties and retooled the Skinny Dipper into the Marathon and the Delphi into the Phoenix. They dropped production of the Edge although they continued to service the units. In recent years they added the Pilot, a line of dive computers manufactured for them in Finland.

Now, however, it sounds like EIT has discovered what most of us already knew: the best way to make a small fortune in the dive business is to start with a large one. The company’s made a bottom-line decision to effectively get out of the scuba market and concentrate its efforts in the industrial electronics sector.

My hat is off to Karl Huggins, Craig Barshinger, and all of the others who were involved in developing and bringing the original Edge to market. Your development marked a turning point in dive technology, one that revolutionized the way most of us dive today. It’s a testimonial to you that I could sell my Edge today for more than I paid for it 16 years ago. Commercial divers who believe in its tested algorithms and appreciate its large display will pay top dollar if they find someone willing to let go of their brick. Sorry to disappoint them, but I’m hanging on to mine to the bitter end, which doesn’t seem to be that far away.

— John Q. Trigger

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