On Wednesday, December 13, 2000 9:23 AM, Hugh Huntzinger wrote:

> > It just seems to have taken an inordinate length of time for
> > helium use to percolate through to the recreational market!  :-)

> I don't really understand that one, but I do suspect that it had to do
> economics.

It did.  Through until comparatively recent times the only helium wells were
located in the USA.  During WWII, Congress passed a bill banning its export
for fear that Germany would use it to create a fleet of bomb-dropping
zeppelins!  (True!)  :-)

As a consequence helium was - and still remains - an expensive gas to use.
(Reclaimable diving systems were introduced to re-cycle the helium content
of divers gases.)

When the Royal Navy did their deep diving trials in the mid-fifties they
were using a small stock of helium delivered to them as part of the
Lend-Lease programme.

It's now readily available - but still a costly gas to use.  :-)