Hugh Bradner

La Jolla, California, 1988 and 1999

You don’t have to stay dry to stay warm

Hugh Bradner was a UC Berkeley physicist in 1951 when he heard about bubble-filled rubber called neoprene, which he believed could be used to make underwater suits for Navy divers. He designed and built some prototype “wetsuits” (the Navy was already using tightly-sealed “drysuits”), but the military showed no interested, and Bradner never followed through on patenting his idea. A Southern California surfer-diver named Bev Morgan came upon Bradner’s wetsuit blueprints in 1952, and soon brough...