Diving equipment is more than the tools of a man’s trade, it is his home under water, his environment for hours at a time. It should be designed to get him down and back safely so that all he has to worry about is his job, not the equipment
Benjamin A. Miller was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When he was 9 years old his family moved to Riverside, California where Ben finished his elementary, middle, and high school education. In high school, Ben bought his first motorcycle. This provided what Ben often called his “apprenticeship in metal”. His greatest pleasure was to design and chop motorcycles, which remained a lifelong passion. After graduation from high school, Ben joined the US Army and was stationed in Germany for 2 years. Before returning stateside, Ben traveled extensively throughout Europe and North Africa.
In 1965, Ben returned to the US, where he visited his brother Gene Miller (1933-1999), who was a commercial diver living in Morgan City, Louisiana. Ben first worked as a tender for his brother and later broke out in 1966, thus beginning an eleven year career as a diver in the offshore industry.
In 1967, Ben went to work for Ocean Systems Inc. where he had the opportunity to try many helmets and masks. This experience led Ben to design and build his own fiberglass helmet, and set him on the path as a manufacturer. In 1969, the bronze 100 Series helmet was built, followed in 1970 by the Miller Diving® quick release weight belt buckle. In November 1971, Ben designed the Miller Diving® harness which remains today as the industry standard worldwide. The Miller Diving® 200 Series and 300 Series diving helmets followed respectively in 1972 and 1977. The current 400 Series diving helmet is truly a culmination of 30 years of experience. Ben left Morgan City in1978 and relocated to Harper, Texas. He wanted a place in the countryside away from crowds and pollution. He built his own house in the Tunisian style of North Africa and grew most of his own food.
Over the next 14 years, Ben and his wife Jan raised sheep, goats, donkeys, llamas, emus and more. They really enjoyed a life together full of freedom and independence. Ben passed away on April 8, 2001, while vacationing in Lima, Peru. The cause of death was encefalopatia aguda, a rare genetic condition, which causes the brain and body systems to suddenly shut down. Today, Miller Diving® Equipment manufactures diving helmets, harnesses, and weight belts used worldwide throughout the commercial diving industry. They remain as a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of Benjamin A. Miller.
John R. Kane / Historical Diving Society USA