Skateboarding history runs really deep and the very first skateboard dates back to the 1920s. Today this action sport is famous as a convenient mode of transportation and the best recreational activity.
But have you ever thought about who invented skateboarding? If you are interested in learning the beginning and history of skateboarding and skateboarding this guide is for you. It has everything that you need to know about the origin, history, and innovation of skateboards and skateboarding.
Who Invented Skateboarding?
The idea of skateboarding originated from surfing. In the 1950s surfing was one of the best recreational sports. Soon surfers started looking for a similar experience on the land.
Skateboarding ideas were in process in many parts of the country at the same time so it is hard to give a single name for a skating inventor.
Bill Richard built the first skateboard that looked very close to the modern form of the skateboard by attaching the rollaboard wheel to a wooden board.
However, the idea for skateboarding was already in process as the very first precursor of the modern skateboard ‘Kne Koster’ was invented in 1925. Here are all the precursors of contemporary skateboarding before 1959:
- Kne Kooter (1925)
- Scooter Skate (the 1930s)
- Flexy-Racer (1932)
- Skeeter Skater (1945)
Richard Bill’s skateboard looked more like a scooter as the rollaboard wheels were attached to it. This skateboard was named Roller Derby skateboard and it went on sale in 1959.
If we compare this skateboard with a modern skateboard it stands too low in terms of safety, speed, and stability. It lacked grip and ground stability since it was a combination of the ultra-thick deck with clay wheels and narrow trucks.
Since it lacked rugged construction and stability, the design wasn’t cool enough to revolutionize the industry. In 1969 the first Kickatail was invented by Larry Steveson. The design was far better than the Roller Derby and offered excellent control and ease of maneuverability.
Kicktail skateboards were manufactured by the company named Makaha and used clay wheels instead of metal wheels for maximum grip and smooth rolling on different terrain types.
Until 1969, skateboarding was only limited to smooth rolling on flat terrain. In 1979, Ollie was invented by Alan Gelfand.
Ollie was the first skateboard that allowed riders to jump and perform tricks. Ollie is the foundation of almost all contemporary skating skills and therefore we can say Alan Gelfand’s skateboard laid the foundations of modern skateboarding.
When Was The First Skateboarding Competition Held?
The first skateboarding competition took place in Hermosa Beach California, in 1963. Since skateboarding originated from surfing, many pro surfers took part in these competitions. This event included many downhill freestyle contests.
Since the sport was in the development stage, no standards of tricks and style were set yet. The riders who traveled a specific distance in the shortest time won the games.
The first professional-grade skateboard was also introduced by the leading skateboard manufacturer Makaha. In addition to that, Stevenson started writing articles about skateboarding in the “Surf Guide” magazine. He introduced skateboarding as a new outdoor activity and a fun addition to the surfing culture.
Larry Stevenson was the person who invented the first-ever kicktail skateboard. Also, he tried multiple designs and material variations to make the skateboard more comfortable and maneuverable. He used foam, and plywood to make the deck and also introduced nylon wheels to make the maneuverability better.
When Did Skateboarding Become Popular?
Makaha was the leading manufacturer of skateboards in the 1950s and 1960s. They sponsored almost all modern skateboarding designs and innovations in that period. In 1963 a 29-inch skateboard named Standard Makaha worth $12.95 was manufactured in the Santa Monica production center.
Skateboarding gained immense popularity in the early 60s and around one million skateboards were sold by 1963. By 1965 there were two major skateboard brands in the market Makaha and Val Surf. Val Surf was founded by Bill Richards who invented the first commercial skateboard Roller Derby.
Initially, they sold only a few fully assembled skateboards and some skateboard parts like trucks every week. 1965 is the peak year for the skateboard industry and it generated around $100 million dollars in annual sales. The modern form of skateboarding began to appear in the 1990s.
In this decade street skating became popular. The skaters used a 30-23 inches long skateboard consisting of a wooden deck and ultra-hard polyurethane wheels.
The skateboards were extremely fast and maneuverable as compared to the early form of skateboards like 1960s Kicktail, and Ollies. The X-games were introduced in 1995 and skateboarding was a crucial part of this sports event. Pro skater Tony Hawk also came to the limelight in this period of time. Tony Hawk is known as one of the best skaters in the world as he won every competition he entered.
The number of skateboard riders increased by 60% from 1999 to 2002. Electric skateboards are among the latest innovations in the skateboarding industry. These self-balancing skateboards offer unmatched speed, stability, and control on all terrain types. Barefoot skating has also been revived after 40-45 years.
Many skaters around the warmer parts of the world love to ride the plastic penny boards barefoot.
Who was the first to start skateboarding?
Skateboarding was first started in California in the late 1950s. Surfing was popular in the periods and many surfers developed early forms of skateboarding to find a land alternative of surfboard.
When was the 1st skateboard invented?
The earliest precursor modern skateboards were designed in the 1930s that looked less like modern skateboards and more like scooters. The first ever commercial skateboard was invented in 1959 by Richard Bill.
Who invented Ollie?
Alan Gelfand invented the Ollie skateboard. It’s the fundamental of all modern skateboarding tricks. This was the very first skateboard that allowed the riders to hop and jump over obstacles.
Skateboards have come a long way from “sidewalk surfing” to modern and safe skateboarding. The first man to invent a commercial skateboard was Bill Richard but Larry Stevenson invented the Kicktail skateboard that laid the foundation of modern skateboarding.
The idea of skateboarding was in process in many parts of the country at the same time and therefore it’s hard to say exactly who was the inventor of skateboards.
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