The Photosphere was so famous that the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, came to the Bahamas, to see it for himself.

The Bahamas must give an historical thank you to John Ernest Williamson, who brought his incredible invention, the Photosphere, to Nassau in February 1914. There was nothing like it in the world and it made The Bahamas famous in the early 20th century.

John Ernest Williamson was born in Liverpool England in 8 December 1881 and died in Nassau, Bahamas on 15 July 1966. Williamson was the inventor of the “photosphere” from which he filmed and photographed underwater. He is credited as being the first person to take an underwater photograph from a submarine. He is also credited with opening the world’s first, and probably only, undersea post office, in Nassau, in 1939.

John Williamson’s father, Charles Williamson, had invented a device to make underwater ship repairs. It was a deep-sea tube, made of concentric iron rings, “which stretched like an accordion”.

In 1912 as Williamson was working as a reporter, he used the device to make underwater photographs in Norfolk Harbour in England.

Soon after, the idea was expanded into the photosphere, which he named Jules Verne. Williamson used it to create motion pictures, starting first in the Bahamas as well as the first under the sea post office in 1939.


(The News Record, Thursday, June 6, 1940)

1939 Photosphere Given Special Stamp Mark By Nassau Government

(The Miami News, Sunday 31 December 1939)

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, visits Bahamas, to see John Earnest Williamson’s invention The Photosphere

(The Green Bay Press, Sunday, 14 November 1976)