The History of Skateboarding

No one knows for sure when skateboarding officially was born, but most people agree it started in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. Surfers in California were always looking to catch a wave, but wanted something “to surf” when the waves were flat. No one knows who made the first board either — it seems that many people had similar ideas around the same time. These first skateboarders began “surfing on land” with wooden boxes or boards with roller skate wheels attached on the bottom. electric skateboard spares

Over time, these boxes turned into planks, and eventually companies started producing decks of pressed layers of wood — similar to the skateboard decks you see today. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, skateboarding was seen as something to do for fun besides surfing, and was therefore often referred to as “Sidewalk Surfing”.

As sidewalk surfing took off, a few surfing manufacturers, such as Makaha, started building skateboards that resembled small surfboards. The popularity of skateboarding at this time spawned a national magazine, Skateboarder Magazine. In 1965 an international championship was broadcast on national television. The growth of the sport during the 1960’s is also apparent by looking at sales figures for Makaha, which quoted $10 million worth of board sales between 1963 and 1965 (Weyland, 2002:28). Yet, sales dropped dramatically the following year and in 1966 Skateboarder Magazine stopped publication. The popularity of skateboarding dropped and remained low until the early 1970s.

At this time, Frank Nasworthy began developing a skateboard wheel made of polyurethane, calling it the “Cadillac”, as he hoped this would convey the smooth ride it allowed the rider to feel. There were also tremendous improvements in traction and performance. When the new wheel was released in 1972, the popularity of skateboarding began increasing again. Many companies started manufacturing trucks (axles) especially designed for skateboarding, and continually looked for ways to increase performance. As the equipment became more maneuverable, the decks got wider, reaching widths of 10 inches (250 mm) and over, thus giving the skateboarder even more control. During the mid-1970’s “banana boards” became popular. This term described skateboards made of polypropylene that were skinny, flexible, and had ribs on the underside for structural support. They were available in lots of colors, but bright yellow was probably the most memorable, thus the name.

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