The history of Side Scan Sonar is somewhat difficult to study. Most of the early developments occured during and after World War II, so it was secret and classified. There were developments in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, France, Canada and elsewhere. There were also some developments in civilian research institutions but these systems were typically "one-off" prototypes and the work was not heavily publicized.

The invention of the World Wide Web and the Internet in 1989 and the introduction of search engines began to make a vast increase in the information available. However much of the early secret work in the field remains unpublished and some may never appear.

In order to try to make a summary of the history of the field I have attempted to make a timeline of technical developments and notable finds in the field. I have tried to recognize individuals, institutions and companies that helped (and continue to help) to contribute progress.