Two Friends, a Bottle of Scotch and an Idea

It’s hard to believe that the world’s largest scuba diving training organization was dreamt up by two friends in Illinois over a bottle of Johnny Walker in 1966.


How It Started

All  PADI Co-Founders, Ralph Ericson and John Cronin (From left to right)John Cronin, a scuba equipment salesman for U.S. Divers, and Ralph Erickson, an educator and swimming instructor, were concerned about the scuba diving industry. They felt that the current scuba certification agencies were unprofessional, didn’t use state of the art instruction and made it unnecessarily difficult for people to enter the sport. John and Ralph knew there had to be a safer, easy way for people to learn to breathe underwater.

In 1966, John brought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label and thirty dollars to Ralph’s Illinois apartment in Morton Grove.  They decided it was time to start a scuba training organization. John insisted that the word “professional” be in the name of the company. Ralph wanted an “association of diving instructors.” After a few scotches, the acronym PADI was born: Professional  Association  of  Diving  Instructors.

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The Growth of PADI

In the early years, PADI grew slowly. By the late 1960s, PADI had 400 members and it was still a struggling entity. John Cronin had been promoted to Sales Manager at U.S. Divers and had moved the family to Huntington Beach, California.

Cronin went to a huge National Sporting Goods Association show in New York City. While he was there, he met with Paul Tzimoulis, who later became the editor of Skin Diver Magazine. Paul suggested that PADI put the diver’s picture on the certification card. That was a strategic move that helped PADI’s eventual global recognition.

Cronin and Erickson hired Nick Icorn from U.S. Divers’ engineering team, who worked with Erickson to develop a modular training program for the PADI Open Water Diver course. It started to catch on.

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s PADI began creating its own integrated, multi-media student and instructor educational materials for each course. This development spawned an incredible growth period for PADI and  made it unique from other agencies.

By the late 1980s PADI was the leading scuba diving training organization in the world. With so many new people introduced to the activity, PADI felt a responsibility to teach divers about their interactions with the underwater environment.  PADI had worked very hard over the years to keep the scuba diving industry as free from legislation as possible. Cronin knew the organization had a responsibility to protect the marine environment or risk the government doing so. John Cronin said: “We want to feel that our children, their children and generations to come will be able to enjoy the underwater world that has given us so much. There are so many significant problems facing mankind, but as divers, this is truly our cause. If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will?”



In 2003, John Cronin passed away. His friend and PADI co-founder, Ralph Erickson, also passed away three years later. They proudly carried PADI’s torch for many years before they confidently put it in the hands of today’s generation, who continues to introduce the world to scuba diving.

PADI has issued millions of scuba certifications worldwide

There are more than 6000 PADI Dive Shops and Resorts worldwide.  With close to 400 employees in PADI corporate offices around the world, PADI works hard to be the best partner to its members and is committed to: 1. Safe and responsible diver acquisition and retention 2. Quality member acquisition and retention 3. Financial prosperity 4. Worldwide alignment in message, products, systems and procedures The PADI Worldwide Executive team ensures these promises are met and is led by


Drew Richardson, President


PADI Is The World Largest Scuba Diving Training Organization for Professional Diving Instructors.

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Educational Difference

Choosing scuba education is a personal experience. You want to feel comfortable with your scuba instructor and their philosophy of teaching. PADI scuba lessons and continuing diver education courses are designed to make learning enjoyable and worthwhile. Under the guidance of your professional PADI Scuba Instructor, you gain confidence while mastering important safety concepts and skills.


Educational Materials

You pick up key information as well as helpful tips by interacting with PADI educational materials – online scuba programs manuals, videos, workbooks, multimedia discs, etc. Credentialed instructional designers use state-of-the-art technology and learning theories to create PADI materials with you, the student diver, in mind.


Performance-Based Learning

This means that you progress as you demonstrate that you have mastered specific performance requirements essential to becoming a scuba diver. Your scuba instructor is there to help you meet these requirements, regardless of how quickly or slowly you master them. You must earn your PADI certification, but you do so in an encouraging and well-supported learning environment.


Continuing Diver Education

The fun and enjoyment of being a confident scuba diver who dives regularly is fueled by improving your scuba skills through continued education. You’ll find more than 25 PADI specialty courses like wreck diving and night diving to help build your knowledge and skills while pursuing your Master Scuba Diver rating.


Educational Standards

All PADI programs, entry-level through scuba instructor training, fall under strict educational standards monitored for worldwide consistency and quality. PADI takes a proactive approach to quality management and randomly surveys PADI Divers to confirm that their courses met PADI’s high standards as well as the divers’ expectations. No other diver training organization works to maintain this level of professional reliability and integrity.


Professional Quality

Just as scuba divers must earn PADI certifications, PADI Scuba Instructors must complete a development program that sets the industry standard for scuba instructor training. Each new PADI Scuba Instructor demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the PADI System and the ability to conduct PADI programs by meeting specific criteria. Before earning the PADI Scuba Instructor rating, all candidates are evaluated by a select group of PADI-employed Instructor Examiners. This ensures that the evaluation process is objective, fair and consistent worldwide.

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Environmental Responsibility

The worldwide PADI organization is committed to preserving the aquatic environment for future generations. PADI courses encompass Project AWARE’s environmental awareness and protection philosophy. Throughout every PADI scuba course, you’ll learn the importance of protecting fragile aquatic ecosystems and are encouraged to become involved in conservation efforts.

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PADI Diving Society

As a PADI Diver, you become part of the larger PADI community. In many parts of the world, you can join the PADI Diving Society, an organization made up of dive enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. The PADI Diving Society keeps members informed on the latest developments in dive news, technology and training and offers members savings and incentives on all of the things you need to stay active and involved in diving – including dive travel, equipment and training.

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Scuba Diving Lifestyle

Your underwater adventures begin in your entry-level course and grow as you explore new dive sites, use new scuba gear and try different types of diving, like night diving or wreck diving. Providing the education, equipment and experiences you want and need, Orpheus Dive supports your diving and helps you truly live the scuba diving lifestyle.

PADI : The Way The World Learns To Dive

We want to teach the world to scuba dive