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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A tale of two barbershopsThe Telegram, April 18th
Two years in, the hipster Fogtown Barber and Shop is a cosy but bustling business where not just haircuts and associated services are on the board, but new and used vinyl records, a few local band cassettes, skateboard decks, and Evans' designed T...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
Alleged skateboard scam costs company thousandsWWAY NewsChannel 3, April 16th
Owned and operated in the Port City, Natural MFG make skateboard decks, that's the part you ride on, for companies across the country. Some customers are saying though all they're really doing is making off with peoples hard earned cash. “It's hard to...Read more
Road Maggots to host skate park poker runLebanon Express, April 16th
The raffle prizes range from a skateboard deck, tickets to the Kuhn Cinema, and a gift certificate for a massage. “The last time we did a benefit run with the Road Maggots, we raised $7,000,” Briese said. “I would love to hit that mark.” Briese has...Read more
Upstarts: Bureo SkateboardsTransworld Business, April 16th
Bureo Skateboards has developed the first cruiser skateboard deck made from recycled fishnets. The company, made of up three friends and surfers from the East Coast, is named after a native Chilean Mapuche word, which means ´the waves'. “Selected in ...Read more
Tony Hawk: "You don't take that trick for granted again"The Vine, April 14th
Talking about the '80s again, one of the early iterations of your Powell Peralta deck had that wider hammer head type nose. That was one of the first boards with a slightly larger nose that was functional and useable. Was that something that you came...Read more
Free talk at 7 pm Thursday at Museum by famous skateboard artistHuntington Herald Dispatch, April 9th
During the workshop, Pendleton says participants will immerse themselves in the history of skateboard graphics, culture and design and also create their own original piece on a skateboard deck. The workshop will encourage participants to focus on the ...Read more
laser engraved skateboard decks by magnetic kitchenDesignboom, March 21st
new york-based laser cutting and design studio magnetic kitchen have launched a kickstarter campaign for their laser-etched skateboarding decks. made in the USA using 7 ply hard rock maple, the calibrated process burns away small layers of wood that ...Read more