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.
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Never Adult Moment: Artist Michael Sieben ollies his skater years into the ...Austin Chronicle, April 23rd
Michael Sieben, tall and lanky and chill, is approaching 40 the way a seasoned skater on a vintage Powell-Peralta deck approaches a previously undiscovered half-pipe in a vast concrete construction site: stoked and ready for action. The University of...Read more
Gallery and museum exhibits: April 24-30The Recorder, April 23rd
Exhibition of Original Skateboard Decks. Opening reception and art auction Saturday, April 26. See our cover story, Page D1. Ending soon. LEVERETT LIBRARY, 75 Montague Road, Leverett. 548-9220, www.leverettlibrary.org. “Celebrating the Trails of ...Read more
All decked out: Auction Saturday benefits proposed skateboard parkThe Recorder, April 23rd
Kenneth Murphy, 33, of Greenfield works on a skateboard deck that will be up for auction Saturday to support the Unity Skate Park committee's dream of a permanent concrete skate park in Turners Falls. Recorder/Micky Bedell. Artist Terry R. Marashlian...Read more
Polk Museum gets 'All Decked Out' with skateboard artTampabay.com, April 22nd
Painted skateboard decks by Dan Lasata are part of the Polk Museum of Art's “All Decked Out” exhibition. Skateboarders may resist their culture going mainstream but it seems inevitable when the venerable Smithsonian Institution creates Innoskate, a...Read more
Supreme to Celebrate 20th Anniversary with Box T-Shirts, Skateboard DecksThe BoomBox, April 21st
Supreme is on a roll. After dropping the Foamposite Ones and the North Face jackets they are back to hit our pockets again. This time in honor of their 20th anniversary, the streetwear company is reissuing the first two T-shirts that helped kickstart...Read more
Museum hosts monthly Fourth Tuesday TourHuntington Herald Dispatch, April 20th
The exhibit features more than 50 of his skateboard decks that he has done since 1998 for such companies as Alien Workshop, Element and his own company Darkroom. Pendleton also includes many of his modern art paintings showcasing his unique and ...Read more
Skateboard deckorator: Exhibit by deck artist ramps up at HMOACharleston Gazette, April 19th
Interspersed among the scores of skateboard decks hanging in the exhibit are some of Pendleton's canvas works. “I maintain a quote-unquote fine-art career where I do gallery exhibits and I do prints. It gets me away from commercial work, something that...Read more
Skateboarders don't fear downhill slopeThe Auburn Plainsman, April 18th
The small white building with a yellow trim has a bench made partly with skateboard decks and a waxed concrete block to skate on in the parking lot. The walls are lined with racks of skateboards, brightly colored wheels and a small shoe selection. A...Read more