Between the mid 1950s and the 1970s, new technology permitted measurements of centimeter scale variability in the ocean. By directly observing the scales at which viscous and diffusive dissipation complete the action of turbulent mixing, oceanographers were finally able to test centuries-old ideas and develop new concepts based on such measurements. As pointed out by Garrett (1983), mixing of the ocean is now approached in three ways: by inferences about the underlying causes of large-scale behavior; by measurements of the small scales at which mixing occurs; and by process studies conducted in laboratory tanks and with theoretical models. Before the 1960s, inferences played the major role, as turbulence could not be measured in places less energetic than tidal channels and too little was known for realistic process studies. And so this brief history begins with the inferences.