Jack O'Neill began surfing in 1952, before functional surf apparel was invented. While working for the Army Air Corps, O'Neill discovered neoprene foam in a DC-3 airplane. He then combined the neoprene carpeting with duct tape to create the first neoprene wetsuit.
Demand for O'Neill's neoprene wetsuits grew rapidly and he began a business selling the O'Neill wetsuits out of his garage. By 1980, he was a leader in the beach apparel industry with a thriving business. Since then, O'Neill™ has become a widely recognized and respected brand in the surf industry, continually creating new and innovative products. In addition to O'Neill wetsuits, they carry O'Neill boardshorts, O'Neill dresses, O'Neill hats, O'Neill rash guards, O'Neill swimsuits, O'Neill water shoes, O'Neill sandals, O'Neill life jackets and O'Neill t-shirts.
In addition to his business success, O'Neill also created a non-profit foundation for kids. O'Neill developed the O'Neill Sea Odyssey Program: a free, educational cruise that introduces kids to the microbiology of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, beginning at Jack O'Neill's doorstep.