The prototype for the first skateboard was a bright red, metal toy from the 1930s called the Scooter Skate. When its handle was removed, a child could ride the three-wheeled contraption like a skateboard, except it had steel wheels and lacked the ability to turn. A four-wheeled Skeeter Skate appeared in the 1940s. It was only marginally better.
The first true skateboards were made in the 1950s. Initially, these were handmade affairs, constructed by kids out of cannibalized roller skates that were nailed to the bottoms of wooden boards. Sensing a market for these new skateboards, one company offered a Scoot Kit, which saved customers the trouble of destroying a perfectly good pair of roller skates.
In the 1960s, skate maker Roller Derby got into the act with its own Skate Board Kit, which came with clay wheels mounted on trucks that could be screwed through metal plates and mounted to a board. It didn’t take long for Roller Derby to figure out that it could sell more skateboards if they were fully assembled, which is what it did with the #10 Skate Board, which had a bright red deck and bone-rattling steel wheels.
The list of 1960s companies from Southern California to Ontario, Canada that made skateboards is very long. There was the Official Skee-Skate Air Master, whose brown deck featured a white box in which the owner could write his or her name. The narrow (4 inches) Zipees Sidewalk Surfboard played on the notion that skateboarding was really just surfing on concrete.
Many of the design precedents for contemporary skateboards were established in the 1960s. Putting logos on the board’s deck was one such standard—in the case of Genuine Skateboard of Canada, that meant a little graphic of a maple leaf. Sokol Surf Skate was one of the first boards to feature letters that were burned into the wood. It also had a rounded, surfboard shape. The decks of Nash Sidewalk Surfers sported a trio of stylized footprints; Bauer, the Canadian hockey-skate company, decorated its boards with a bold white arrow.
Super Skate, also from Canada, was one of the first companies to try to improve upon standard steel wheels by offering its customers wider clay ones. In fact, the clay was really a composite made out of walnut shells. Sincor of Venice Beach also went with clay, but added touches like tapered rails (edges) on its skateboard decks in a manner that was reminiscent of surfboards.
Color started to be a big deal, too. Roller Derby came out with the Mustang (yellow on aqua, with yellow wheels to match). Zipees’ Lahana M-444 had green clay wheels and a pair o...
By the mid-1960s, Makaha of Santa Monica had hired surfer Phil Edwards to pitch its skateboards. Even more significant was the arrival of fiberglass and composite decks. Super Surfer’s fiberglass board, with its textured deck to ensure a good grip, was the hit of the 1965 World Skateboarding Championships in Anaheim, California.
The next major breakthrough came in 1972, when Frank Nasworthy invented urethane skateboard wheels. He called his company Cadillac Wheels, and his invention fostered a ton of new interest in the sport, as well as scores of imitators.
The Hang Ten, for example, was an aluminum skateboard with urethane wheels. Hobie diversified from surfboards to offer the Weaver Woody, which had Power Paw wheels and precision bearings to improve performance.
Skateboards were becoming increasingly sophisticated by the mid-1970s. Logan Earth Ski specialized in high-quality wooden decks, some with diamond tails, bulbous mid-sections, and delicately tapered rails. Bruce Logan, Torger Johnson, and Brad Logan all had signature models. Even Tony Alva of the famous Zephyr team from Dogtown (the area between Venice Beach and Santa Monica) rode a Logan.
In northern California, Santa Cruz Skate Boards was building skateboards with high-quality Bennett trucks and cream-of-the-crop Sims Pure Juice Bowl Rider wheels. Speed Springs trucks were also desirable—the Ed Nadalin Pro Model ran with those. Canadian company Wee Willie Winkels used X-Caliber trucks and Kahuna Tar wheels.
Rounding out the list of 1970s skateboard makers is G&S (Gordon & Smith), whose Fibreflex boards, with Bennett trucks and Power Paw wheels, were state-of-the-art wood-and-fiberglass laminates. G&S made a Stacey Peralta Warp Tail model—with Bahne trucks and Road Rider wheels—that was actually designed with empty swimming pools in mind. Alva Skates was another prominent company, as were the Pipecleaner and Moose skateboards produced by GNC.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
On-Line Skateboard Museum
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Skateboards
Source: Google News
Damien Hirst skateboard expected to go for more than $9000 in online auctionNorth Devon Journal, December 9th
Hirst's Shark and Butterfly skateboard deck is one of more than 100 items for sale on an online auction of decks and surfboards designed by famous artists from around the world. Hirst, who is the world's richest living artist and has a house in Combe...Read more
Holiday Gifts: Sunglasses made for a wine loverLos Angeles Times, December 7th
If wine's not your thing, Woodzee has frames made from bamboo, exotic woods or recycled skateboard decks. They are all in keeping with the company's stated mission: to construct beautiful pieces created from renewable resources. Any of them could make ...Read more
Oasis Skateboard Factory gives struggling teens a chance to show their skillsThe Globe and Mail, December 6th
His fingers gripped tightly around an X-Acto knife, Mr. Brambley meticulously carves the outline of an antler into painter's tape covering a wooden skateboard deck. When the mythical chimera he has designed is painted and finished, the board will be...Read more
N-Men party and lots of skateboarding set for this weekendSacramento Bee, December 6th
Skate-rock pioneers Drunk Injuns will perform, as will Steve Steadham, a member of the Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade known for his signature “backside boneless.” Doors open at 8 p.m. $10 cover charge. N-Men skate sessions will also run from noon to 5 ...Read more
Rick Remender Prepares His Deadly ClassVe3d.com, December 5th
We were so shell-shocked from the attacks that we sort of regressed into this childlike mode of filling our apartment with '80s memorabilia. We got all of our favorite skateboard decks off of eBay, bought a bunch of old independent trucks and put...Read more
Faceplant Boardriders 'Big Sexy' Longboard Skateboard Deck is Pushing the ...PR Web (press release), November 30th
Faceplant Boardriders 'Big Sexy' Longboard Skateboard Deck is Pushing the Progression of Longboarding. The new 'Big Sexy' longboard deck from Faceplant Boardriders has become a favorite amongst hardcore freeriders and downhillers since its release...Read more
Falmouth company Thrashion launches Snap card game from recycled ...This is Cornwall, November 20th
A COMPANY which makes jewellery, accessories and homewares from broken and unwanted skateboard decks has launched a card game to raise money for young people in Afghanistan and Cambodia. Falmouth-based Thrashion Ltd has hooked up with ...Read more
Review: Valhalla Octahedron downhill skateboard deckSkate[Slate] (blog), November 13th
I wasn't too familiar with Valhalla Lonboards when I first got the offer to try out their Octahedron, but when I got a look at the deck I was stoked. I will start off by saying what hardly needs to be said: this deck is sleek. Simple and to the point...Read more