It was founded by:-
- Max Eugene Nohl, a diver who lived in Milwaukee. In the early 1930s he had national publicity for his salvage operations on a sunken steamship, the John Dwight.
- John D. Craig, a Hollywood movie producer, a pioneer in underwater photography, who wanted to film the possible salvage of the RMS Lusitania.
- Jack Browne, a diver.
- Edgar End, a physician who worked in hyperbaric medicine.
In World War II DESCO made hardhat diving gear and oxygen rebreathers for the US Navy. DESCO continues in business in Milwaukee. They produce various models of diving helmets, and related diving gear, and represent Hunter Drysuits, Composite Beat Engel DeepSea helmets, and Broco Welding.
The DESCO "air hat", introduced in 1968, is still manufactured and is popular among air divers and particularly those working in contaminated environments; its free-flow, positive-pressure design affords an extra safety margin when contaminants are present. As compared to demand helmets, the air hat is simple and inexpensive to operate and maintain.
In 2016 DESCO purchased the assets of Morse Diving International out of bankruptcy. They went into production of Morse Helmet models under the brand name A J Morse and Son. DESCO Corporation has committed to keeping the Morse legacy alive and guarantees A J Morse and Son helmets retain their unique details and are not re-branded DESCO models. Morse helmets are hand tinned, not electroplated like DESCO helmets. Morse patterns are used to make castings. Current AJMS models in production are the US Navy Mark V and first generation commercial helmets in breastplate feed and bonnet feed variants. All helmets are available in polished or tinned.
- Kane, John R (March 1998). "MAX E NOHL AND THE WORLD RECORD DIVE OF 1937" (PDF). SPUMS Journal. South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 28 (1): 56–59. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- http://www.therebreathersite.nl/03_Historical/Desco_B_Lung.htm (about rebreathers which they made or make)