Unearth the layers of history as we dive into the skateboard history timeline. The skateboard, seemingly unassuming, has ignited revolutions in sports, fashion, and urban landscapes. But its origins are humble, its evolution complex. How did a homemade wooden board transform into a multi-billion-dollar industry? The answers lie within this timeline. Peel back the layers of time to uncover pivotal moments, charismatic pioneers, and seismic shifts propelling skateboarding from its origins to cultural zenith.
Firstly, you may be wondering:
Who invented the skateboard?
The answer is…
No one knows.
Many people have claimed that they made the first skateboard, but the truth is we will probably never know who created it.
Sometime in the 1950s, all over California, surfers got the idea of surfing on pavements.
Skateboarding was seen as something to do as a warm-up on the way to a surf spot or just for fun after surfing.
It seems that several people got the idea at the same time.
The original skateboard was started with wooden boxes or boards, and roller skateboarding wheels slapped on the bottom.
As you can imagine, a lot of people got hurt in skateboarding’s early years.
Therefore, the boxes turned into planks. Eventually, companies started producing decks of pressed layers of wood—similar to the skateboard decks of today.
In 1959, the Roller Derby released the first official skateboard with some technical improvement as compared to the board on wheels.
As a result, this board could do tricks and also executed better maneuvering abilities.
You might feel kind of sleepy now, right?
In the 1960s would be the boom for skateboarding.
Skateboarding Got Popular
In 1962, the surf shop “Val-Surf” in Hollywood sold the first self-produced skateboards.
These boards featured a typical surfboard shape and roller skate trucks.
In the same year, the company Patterson Forbes developed the first industrially produced complete boards with more developed trucks.
Also, the clothing industry specialized more and more on skateboarding. One of the most famous skateboarding shoe brand named Vans was established in 1966.
From this day on, Vans supported skateboarders from all over the world.
Shoe companies like Vans, Etnies, Converse, and DC Shoes developed and manufactured skateboarding related footwear and streetwear.
In 1963, skating reached its peak, and more companies including Patterson Forbes make boards that are well developed, especially for the trucks.
The skateboard brands started holding skateboarding competitions. The first ever skateboard competition was held in Hermosa Beach in California.
At this time, skateboarding was mostly either downhill slalom or freestyle competition.
The kind of skateboarding tricks at this time looked almost completely different from what skateboarding looks like today!
The style of skateboarding at the time was called “freestyle” and is more like dancing ballet or ice skating with a skateboard.
After that, the popularity of the sport seemed to die.
As from 1965, skateboarding’s popularity suddenly crashed.
Most people assumed skateboarding was a fad that had died out, like the hula hoop.
Skateboard companies folded, and people who wanted to skate had to make their skateboards again from scratch.
Skaters were using clay wheels for their boards, which was extremely dangerous and hard to control.
If this was the end of skateboarding, we couldn’t enjoy it like today.
This might surprise you:
As after that, skateboard had a major comeback.
In 1972, Frank Nasworthy invented urethane skateboard wheels, which are similar to what most skaters use today.
His company was called Cadillac Wheels, and the invention sparked new interest in skateboarding among surfers and other young people.
These wheels gave the skateboard the grip and durable that allowed for better control and higher speed compared to its predecessors.
This was what made an evolutionary boost toward the sport that we see today:
Evolution Of The Skateboard
In the spring of 1975
At a slalom and freestyle contest in Del Mar, California the Zephyr team showed the world what skateboarding could be.
The Zephyr team blew the contest away with a new aggressive, innovative style of skateboarding. This event catapulted skateboarding into the public eye.
The most famous of these Zephyr team riders were Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Stacy Peralta.
Do you know who changed the course of skateboarding?
Zephyr style of skateboarding?
It was Alan Gelfand (nicknamed “Ollie”).
In 1978, only a few years into the popularity of the Zephyr style of skateboarding, a skater named Alan Gelfand invented a maneuver.
By slamming his back foot down on the tail of the skateboard and simultaneously jumping into the air, thereby popping him and the skateboard into the air, he created a trick known as the Ollie.
The Ollie is the single trick that completely revolutionized skateboarding — most tricks today are based in performing an Ollie.
This also led to the introduction of street skateboarding.
The trick still bears Gelfand’s nickname, and for his trick creation, in 2002, Alan Gelfand was inducted into the skateboard hall of fame.
In order to grow, a person’s life always has up and down moments, so did skateboard history.
What happened next?
Towards the end of this decade, the insurance cost for skateboarding was increased due to the dangerous nature of the sport.
This created less interest in the sport and as a result, lots of the skateboard parks were closed down.
But those completely dedicated to skateboarding kept skating.
Through the 80’s skateboarders started to build their own ramps at home.
They started to skate whatever they could find including curbs, stairs, banks, and other city structures.
Skateboarding began to be more of an underground movement, with skaters continuing to ride, turning the underworld into their own skate park.
Skateboard companies owned by skateboarders started cropping up.
These were smaller companies, but this enabled each company to be creative and do whatever they wanted – creating new styles and shapes of skateboards.
It was also during the 1980’s that the VCR came on the scene, and opened up the world of skateboarding to any kid, anywhere.
Professional skateboarders such as Stacey Peralta and George Powell created a company under the name Powell Peralta.
They pulled together a team of young talented skateboarders named the Bones Brigade.
Stacey had a talent for filming, and in 1984 filmed the first of a long series of revolutionary skateboard videos – “The Bones Brigade Video Show.”
Stacey made more Bones Brigade videos – Future Primitive in 1985, and the famous Search for Animal Chin in 1987 and many more.
With the birth of these videos, skateboarding began influencing clothing styles, music, and culture.
As skateboarding fell in the late 80’s, vert skateboarding which was extremely admired during the 1980’s, quickly lost a lot of attractiveness to street skateboarding in the early 1990s.
In 1995, ESPN held its first Extreme Games in Rhode Island.
These first X Games were a huge success and helped pull skateboarding closer to the mainstream and to being accepted by the general population.
In 1997 the first Winter X Games were held, and “Extreme Sports” were classified.
Into the Mainstream
Who made skateboard popular?
There were so many people getting involved in making this sport popular.
However, we believe media played a very important role in this process.
Here’s the kicker:
As the 90’s continued into 2000, the rise in popularity for skateboarding fueled more and more commercialized skateboarding competitions like the X Games.
This brought back vert skateboarding and CBS coverage of skateboarding events.
As time goes on, skateboarding is seen more in the media pulling skateboarding more into the mainstream.
The advantage to this is the money being pumped into the skateboarding industry.
It helped create more skateparks, better skateboards, skateboarding companies to keep innovating and inventing new things.
The 2000s to Present
At the beginning of this century, video games such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater became an instant hit and gave more exposure to skateboarding.With more money being brought in, more skateparks, better skateboards, and skateboarding companies have kept innovation at an all-time high.
In 2004, the International Skateboarding Federation was formed and was in charge of the talks with International Olympics Committee about adding the game to Olympics.
The Dew Tour in 2005 gave rival to X Games, other local contests and international ones as well gained popularity.
As you can see,
Skateboarding has evolved from its rebellious ways in local parks and shopping centers into one of the world’s most beloved sports.
In 2020, it will be a brand new event at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, where it will cement itself as a legitimate and exciting sport.
Aside from its upcoming debut at the Olympics, the sport is already prominently featured as part of Red Bull’s impressive sporting calendar and popular X Games.
There have been so many competitions for skateboarders throughout the years.
Therefore, if you are like me, you might ask yourself a question:
Who Are The Best Skateboarders In The World?
We know each person has their own legend in their heart. Therefore, it is not fair to say who is the best.
However, in our perspective, below is the top 5 of the most celebrated, iconic and talented skateboarders to ever perform an ollie.
Here’s the list:
This is skateboarding’s most recognizable name.Putting his name onto one of video games biggest franchises, setting up a massive skateboard empire and building skateparks all over the world.
It was his skateboarding that launched him onto the scene, being the first to ever land a televised 900 in 1999.
He was a voted skater of the year by Thrasher Magazine in 1990.
Tony Hawk, to this day, continues to be an ambassador for the sport of Skateboarding.
One of the most creative skateboarders ever, Bob Burnquist is known for his difficult yet innovative tricks.He has won numerous gold medals at the X-Games including Big Air golds, Vert Golds, and Best trick awards.
His home is also home to one of the very few permanent Mega Ramps, where he is able to learn and perfect his innovative skateboard tricks.
He is the Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Century.Caballero is credited with the innovation of many skateboarding tricks, such as his signature ‘Caballerial’.
He is regarded by many as being one of the best ever and an important skater during the rise of skateboarders.
The inventor of the Flatground ollie, kickflip, 360 flip, heelflip. This formed the basis of competitive street skateboarding.Rodney Mullen’s influence on the sport is now a vital part of the very basics of skateboarding.
Many other legends of skateboarding consider Mullen to be the most influential skater of all time.
One of the few people to be awarded the prestigious Skater of the Year award twice.Danny Way is known for his extreme skateboarding stunts and helping to popularise the use of mega ramps.
One of his most famous stunts was completing an ollie over the Great Wall of China in 2005.
With his extreme tricks, he has also won gold at the X Games 5 times.
Wait! It is not the end.
Below is the common question we have been received recently:
What Came First Scooter Or Skateboard?
Let’s find out the answer.The first scooter was made in 1817 by Wim Ouboter in Germany.
It then spread fast soon in the U.S. On the street, you could see a lot of people zipping around with scooters.
In Berlin, policemen used scooters to get around.
In some Walmarts, employees also used to zip around the store.
Scooter is supposed to be easier to ride and safer than a skateboard.
Meanwhile, back to the history of skateboarding, the first skateboard was made in 1958.
Therefore, we can confidently say that scooter came first.
The journey of the skateboard history timeline, from its 1950s origins to today, showcases an evolution that spans athleticism, artistry, and culture. This progression, shaped by iconic figures and styles, underscores its global appeal and enduring spirit of innovation. As we look back and forward, the skateboard’s narrative remains a testament to human creativity and adventure.