Dive tables, like some old classic music cds, still have a place in our hearts and classrooms. And not just from a historical point of view, but from a real world happening now point of view. Most dive shops and instructors teach computers (yes we do), because that is what the over whelming majority of divers are using; especially since they are so easy and in most cases economical for the diver to own. There are even dive operators that will rent you one, free of charge, if you are diving with them for the week and don’t own one. (Owning your own is still the best option as you know how it works.)
But, dive tables are they not going the way of the cassette player? I would argue that is not the case as dive tables have a very real and tangible part of learning to dive and not just because we learned them. Working with students and helping them understand dive tables, while not mastering them, also helps them to understand what the computer is telling them. Dive tables make the no-stop times real in their minds and not some abstract point that they read about in the book or saw on the video. Dive tables and the basic understanding of what they are telling the diver leads to a little better understanding of decompression theory without boring the student to tears. The humble dive table along with its cousins the eRPDml and the dive computer can help us show the student diver that yes our computers allow us more bottom time, but there is no reason to push things to the limits.
I will leave you with this story. A few years ago when dive tables were the primary dive planning tool that we taught, a new diver went to Cozumel for his first ocean dives. When he arrived home he sat down one night and thought it would be interesting to practice his tables based on the dives he had made the week before. The next morning he was waiting for me at the dive shop and looking worried. As he went through the dive week on the dive table with me he stopped right in the middle of it and asked if he should head to the chamber right now because according to his dive tables he should be very sick or even worse. After assuring him he was fine, we reviewed the differences in dive tables and dive computers and how they both function and why dive tables are the most conservative dive planning tool we use.