More than 25 years ago, Bob Hollis and a partner started a company known as Oceanic. They made camera housings, strobes, strobe housings and various U/W photo accessories, for a budding industry. The company known as Oceanic is aptly named: it is the result of one man’s love of the sea. Bob Hollis was born in Orland, California. His fascination with the ocean began when he was working in Standard Oil’s engineering services division while earning a degree in mechanical engineering.
As did most of our diving pioneers, he became an avid hunter, collecting abalone and spearfishing. In 1956 he bought a two hose regulator and began scuba diving. At the same time he became friends with three underwater photographers. This was a brand new art and they made their own camera housings. Bob made a housing for his camera using Plexiglass. When the first electronic strobes came out in 1958, he made underwater housings for them as well.
In 1966, Bob and Ray Collins opened a sporting goods, surfing, diving and fishing store called the Anchor Shack in Hayward, CA. (There would eventually be three stores.) They also sold a mail order line of Anchor Shack U/W photo equipment. The products, all hand made, included a camera tray and ball joint arms, along with strobe and camera housings. One of the most successful products was an aluminum housing for Nikon and Canon cameras known as the Hydro 35, some are still in use today.
In 1972, Oceanic was founded with the Anchor Shack photo line as its product base. Two years later the company’s building burned down. When it was being rebuilt in 1974 Bob bought out his partner and purchased machinery and tooling for a plastic housing that could be used for several products. Bob added products to the Oceanic line. There were lights, of course, but in the beginning there were also more photo products: lenses, carrying cases, a lightmeter, camera and strobe housings, extension tubes and framers.
Then, in 1976, Oceanic bought Farallon. That added fins, masks, snorkels, diver propulsion vehicles, knives, BCs and gauges, to the product line. Bob always knew the future of diving would be in electronics and in 1989 introduced the first Oceanic dive computers. Since then Oceanic has become known for leading the market with it’s line of dive computers. Bob Hollis has strived to serve the industry.
For several years he served on DEMAs executive committee. He also lobbied to have Federal OSHA laws rewritten to include the acceptance of Nitrox diving. Bob’s contributions to diving have made exploring the oceans safer and more enjoyable for millions worldwide.