The first known skateboard type product is a three-wheeled, stamped metal device with pedal-car like wheels, and an adjustable heel cup and toe clip. Usually sold in pairs with a set of poles, it is apparently designed to mimic cross-country skiing. It has a 3″ by 10″ riding surface, and no steering mechanism.
Another three-wheeled device, the “Scooter Skate” is a skateboard/scooter hybrid; it can be ridden with its included handle or without. The bulbous rocket-ship style metal deck has a riding surface of 6 1/2″ by 13″, with steel roller-skate style wheels. There is no turning or steering mechanism.
A four-wheeled device made from aluminum, the “Skeeter Skate” is created around 1945. With a 4 3/8″ by 15 3/4″ riding surface, this scooter comes with a removable handle and pedal-car style wheels. This device introduces a unique innovation, the first steering axles, or “trucks,” which allow riders to turn for the first time.
A crude form of skateboarding as we know it today begins to develop. Kids create their own homemade boards by nailing roller-skate assemblies to the bottom of a wooden plank. Ofen the plank has a milk crate nailed to it with handles attached for control. Late in the 1950s, surfers discover skateboarding and embrace the feeling of wave riding on flatland. Clay wheels are introduced to skateboarding in 1959.
The early 1960s bring the introducton of the first manufactured skateboards. The following are some of the popular mainstream skateboard designs from the 1960s: Scooter Skate (three- wheeler), Roller Derby, Skee Skate, Sokol SurfSkate, Nash Sidewalk Surfer, Sincor, and Super Surfer.
A Southern California surf shop, Val Surf, begins making its own skateboards. Owner Bill Richards makes a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company to produce sets of skate wheels, attaching them to squared-off wooden boards. Val Surf is the first known retail shop to sell skateboards.
Larry Stevenson designs and manufactures the first professional skateboards, which will later become the Makaha brand. Larry and his wife, Helen, initally work from their garage building and shipping boards. Surf legend, Mike Doyle later works with Larry in developing future board designs.
The Makaha Phil Edwards (another legendary surfer) model is the first pro model skateboard ever produced. The board introduces two revolutionary components – clay wheels, and Chicago trucks (the first double-acton, adjustable truck). That first skateboard is ordered through the mail for $10.95, shipping included.
Working with Bill Richards at Val Surf, surf legend Hobie Alter introduces the Hobie Super Surfer skateboard. Surf legend, Charles “Corky” Carroll III is also involved with Hobie in developing its products. Hobie Alter later teams up with the Vita Pakt juice company to create Hobie Skateboards.
Larry Gordon and Floyd Smith, co-founders of Gordon & Smith Surfoards, develop a revolutionary new board manufacturing process that combines Bo-Tuff (a fiberglass-reinforced epoxy) with a maple wood core to create the Fibreflex skateboard. This is the first laminated board created for the skate market.
Skateboarding becomes widespread and very popular, and companies are struggling to keep up with demand. While most skaters take to the streets or sidewalks, some skaters begin to explore skatng in backyard swimming pools.
Surfer Publicatons publishes The Quarterly SKATEBOARDER magazine, which releases only four issues that year. John Severson is the publisher and editor. When the magazine begins publishing again as a bi-monthly in 1975, the name is changed to SkateBoarder magazine.
San Diego skater, Patti McGee is featured on the cover of Life magazine.
The first skateboard movie, Skater Dater is released, and later wins an Academy Award for Best Movie Short.
Many public officials and safety organizatons begin condemning skateboarding as unsafe – urging stores not to sell skateboards, and parents not to buy them. Many cites start banning skateboarding on public streets. The skateboarding fad dies primarily due to inferior product, too much inventory, and a public upset by reckless riding.
Vans shoes get their start in the surf and skateboard scene after brothers Jim and Paul Van Doren build a shoe factory in Anaheim, later opening a chain of stores in California. Vans are popular with surfers, then become popular with skaters in the 1970s after the company introduces theirs Off the Wall line of shoes designed for skateboarders. Their stores even offer skaters the ability to choose from a selection of materials and colors to create their own custom shoes. For many years, Vans shoes are considered skateboard shoes.
Larry Stevenson invents and patents the kicktail. Though not accepted at first, other manufacturers eventually copy the idea. Most of the companies balk at paying a royalty to Stevenson and he eventually loses his patent rights in court. Gordon & Smith, Hobie, Suregrip, and LoganEarthski are the only companies who agree to pay a royalty on Stevenson’s design.
Frank Nasworthy creates a urethane skateboard wheel design after seeing the material being used on rollerskates by the Roller Sports Company. He begins producing the first urethane wheels made exclusively for skateboarding.
Ron Bennett builds one of the first skateboard trucks specifically designed for skateboarding. Board manufacturers spring up everywhere and the industry is booming with new products and ideas.
Kent Sherwood (Jay Adams’ step-father), who owns a fiberglass shop, is approached by Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk of Zephyr Surf Shop to create a Zephyr skateboard. Craig Stecyk is credited with giving Santa Monica the Dogtown name.
Northern California surfing buddies, Rich Novak, Doug Haut and Jay Shuirman join together to form NHS, the powerhouse behind Santa Cruz Skateboards.
Dave Dominy approaches Larry Balma to create a wider, more stable truck for use in the slalom races at La Costa in northern San Diego County. Trackers are the first truck that can handle the more aggressive skating that is developing at the time.
Skateboard magazine is published by James O’Mahoney.
Fausto Vitello and Eric Swenson form Ermico Enterprises to create a skateboard truck that would turn well in the streets.
Mike Rector and Bob Wolfe create the first safety gear designed specifically for skaters. Prior to this, injuries are common since most skaters haven’t given much thought to safety gear.
The skateboard movie “Spinnin’ Wheels” is released, featuring the skating of Mike Weed, Ty Page and Skitch Hitchcock.
Tom Sims, working from his father’s woodworking shop, begins manufacturing the first Sims skateboards. The first team riders are Lonnie Toft, George Orton, “Woody” Woodward, and Laura Thornhill.
Surfer and slalom skater, Mike Williams, looking for a new truck design to use in the La Costa slalom races, approaches San Diego aerospace tooling company, HPG IV. Mike works with owners Bill Brawner and Walt Tiedge to design the Gull Wing truck from the newly formed company, Gull Wing Products.
The Zephyr team begins breaking up – Kent Sherwood leaves Zephyr and starts making his own boards (Z-Flex), taking Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Jim Muir with him. Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Bob Biniak later switch to Logan EarthSki, and Stacy Peralta starts skating for Gordon & Smith.
Wes Humpston and Jim Muir trademark the Dogtown name and start Dogtown Skates. Wes begins creating the first real graphics for skateboard decks.
The skateboard movie “Freewheelin’” is released, produced by Scott Dittrich, and stars Stacy Peralta, Camille Darrin., Russ Howell, Kenny Means, Tom Sims and Mike Weed.
George Powell teams up with Tom Sims to produce the Quicksilver ProSlalom deck, constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum skins around a maple core. Shortly afterward the company produces the Quicktail to appeal to the growing freestyle/vertical market. Powell also introduces Bones, the first double-radial wheel.
The skateboard movie “That Magic Feeling” is released.
Wide World of Skateboarding magazine begins publishing and is soon joined by Skateboard World magazine.
Brad Dorfman gets his start in skateboarding helping his sister distribute Mad Rats (a popular skate short). With the success of Mad Rats, Brad begins manufacturing other skate products, leading him to later create what will become Vision, one of the largest skateboard companies in history.
Pepsi and 360 Sportswear form a professional skateboard team to sponsor a variety of safety clinics and demos performed mostly at local schools.
From 1978 until 1989, skateboarding was illegal in Norway, which involved a total ban on skateboard imports, ownership, or use.
Alan Gelfand is credited with inventing the “ollie pop,” which is the first known no-hands air on vertical.
The theatrical movie “Skateboard” is released.
Fausto Vitello of Ermico Enterprises, with input from Jay Shuirman, Rick Blackhart and Kevin Thatcher, creates Independent trucks, which combines the best design features of both Tracker and Bennett trucks.
Stacy Peralta leaves G&S to start a partnership with George Powell, forming Powell-Peralta. Stacy starts as team manager, and works in promotions and advertising. Powell-Peralta’s first board is the very popular Beamer, a wood laminate with one or two aerospace strips (beams) for reinforcement. Stacy is responsible for creating one of the all-time most successful and popular skate teams, the Bones Brigade. Vernon “Court” Johnson, a.k.a. VCJ, is the creative genius responsible for nearly every company graphic ever created.
Spiraling insurance rates and declining skatepark attendance begins forcing all but a few skateparks out of business. The punk movement infiltrates the skate scene and alienates many skaters and commercial sponsors. Throughout 1979 skateboarding interest declines, and is all but commercially dead by the end of the year. The majority of skaters move on to other things.
Skateboarder Magazine changes its name to SkateBoarder’s Action Now, and eventually to just Action Now, and begins to focus on a variety of action sports in order to widen their magazine’s appeal in the dying skateboard market.
In the early 80s, Vision produces the very successful and popular Mark “Gator” Rogowski model, followed by the Mark Gonzales model. Their popularity launches Vision into the mainstream.
Skating goes mostly underground. Street skating, and kids building their own wooden ramps, keep skating going at the core level. The large skateboard companies suffer huge losses.
Vision signs a licensing agreement with Sims and begins producing and marketing the Sims boards. Vision eventually produces an entire clothing line called Vision Street Wear, which becomes very popular worldwide. Vision later creates Vision shoes, which spurs growth in many new shoe companies creating shoes specifically for skaters.
Fausto Vitello creates the skater only magazine, Thrasher, with Kevin Thatcher as the editor.
In an attempt to portray a more positive side to skateboarding, Larry Balma (co-founder of Tracker Trucks) and Peggy Cozens begin publishing Trans World Skateboarding magazine.
Powell-Peralta creates the first Bones Brigade skate video thanks to the creative talents of C.R. Stecyk and Stacy Peralta. The “Bones Brigade Video Show” features all the team skaters and helps to propel skateboarding to new levels of popularity.
Dozens of new manufacturers spring up in the industry. Numerous vertical champions emerge, including Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi, Lance Mountain and Neil Blender. Skaters like Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas and Tommy Guerrero take street skating to new heights, and Rodney Mullen dominates the freestyle competition.
In the mid to late 1980’s, Powell-Peralta, Vision/Sims, Santa Cruz, Tracker and Independent are the major companies in the industry. Board royalties and contest winnings escalate and some pro skaters earn as much as $10,000 a month.
Skateboard shoes from Airwalk, Vans and Vision become enormously popular, along with skate clothing.
Many new and existing shoe companies begin marketing directly to the skateboard industry. In the coming years, Airwalk, Etnies, Simple and DC are among the first companies to enter the skate market. Converse, which once had been a popular skate shoe in the 1960s, begins going after the skate market, sponsoring Rodney Mullen and Christian Hosoi.
A number of top skaters and former pros leave their sponsors and start their own skateboard companies. One example is Steve Rocco of World Industries. The new skater-owned companies increase competition and shake up the established industry.
The skateboard movie “Gleaming the Cube” is released.
The skate industry is deeply affected by a world-wide recession. Skaters rediscover their roots in street skating, and the skate companies begin re evaluating themselves.
Skateboarding re-emerges from its slump. The sport gains a great deal of exposure at the “Extreme Games” in Rhode Island. This event, produced and broadcast by cable television network ESPN, serves to bring skateboarding more into the mainstream.
Skateboard shoe manufacturers like Etnies and Vans begin selling huge quantities of product and are joined by other soft-goods manufacturers eager to cash in on skateboarding’s growing popularity.
Mainstream shoe companies Adidas, and later Nike begin marketing made for-skating shoes.
Interest in old-school products and skaters begins. Many old school skaters re-surface again after years away from the limelight.