The History of Skateboarding – Part 1

It is human nature at times just to accept things and never question their purpose or why they were invented. Skateboards are such a thing, people just jump on them and never give a second thought about them. It is often cited that skateboards were invented by surfers in the USA to provide fun when there were not any waves. In this blog we look at the history of the skateboard and dispel many myths about it.

The 1950s

It was in the early 1950s that skateboards were invented, and surfing was traced back as the origin source of these contraptions. Essentially, the first skateboards were little more than just roller-skates fixed to a wooden board. Some surfers in California had an idea to transfer the feeling of surfing on water to the city’s streets. That way, if there was no swell or it was an inconvenient time of day, they could still take enjoyment from skating.

The term for these new skateboarders was asphalt surfers, which kind of defines itself. The skateboard was actually designed and invented in two places in the USA at the same time of the early 1950s, namely Hawaii and California. These early boards were fairly short, accompanied by metal wheels, and around 1957 there was a big peak in everything to do with skateboards. The U.S economy was booming at that time and the toy industry was also flourishing.

The industry was aware of this board with wheels and in 1959 the first skateboards rolled off the production line of Roller Derby. These new boards had some basic new technical developments and the boards were easier to handle and maneuver, thus skateboarders started to develop tricks on their boards.

The 1960s

Between the late 50s and the mid-60s, skateboarding had grown in popularity, and folks around the west coast and Hawaii had their own skateboarding culture that was in its infancy. Not only did the west coast embrace this new pastime but the big cities on the east coast also adopted this new craze with open arms.

The early 60’s were development years for the skateboard, its status from a simple toy had elevated to a piece of sporting equipment and this change of emphasis put skateboarding at a whole new level. In Hollywood in 1962 the first real surf shop, Val Surf, started to sell their self-produced boards, and a milestone was achieved. The skateboard had its own surfboard shape and the roller skate trucks were fixed, and so the skateboard was now sold as a complete piece of equipment.

The first major company to produce and market this new complete skateboard was Patterson Forbes, these new boards had better developed trucks and materials. And in 1963 a popular surfing magazine, Surf Guide Magazine, had its first advertisement for the skateboard.

The clothing industry also sat up and noticed this new skateboarding fad and started to get into the action. In 1966 the brand Van produced footwear with skateboarding influences, other manufacturers joined the action producing street cool shoes and clothes; Converse, DC Shoes, and Etnies all joined the party.