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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Cuba's Female Skaters Ride for a More Open Future on the IslandMiami New Times, February 9th
A friend who worked in a bus factory was making him molds for trucks (used to attach the wheels to the skateboard deck), which Pando filled with liquefied aluminum. For the wheels, he collected urethane, a sort of rubber, from military tanks. Then he...Read more
2016 SBIFF Movie Spotlight: Wheels Over ParadiseKEYT, February 8th
With that said, we had great support from Powell-Peralta, Arbor, and Sector 9 skateboards. Louis Pilloni from Skate House Media was instrumental in providing all the archival material to tell the backstory and we really appreciate that. Wheels Over...Read more
Postino opens 2-story wine bar Wednesday at Kierland Commonsazcentral.com, February 8th
space features garage doors and sliding glass walls to easily transform it into an indoor-outdoor venue. Decor will include limited-edition skateboard decks, vintage "Playboy" pages and "Space Invader" symbols, as well as a steel installation by a...Read more
Get to Know the Illustrious Work of Dutch Artist/Graphic Designer KWILLSThe Hundreds, February 8th
Brands like Powell-Peralta, H-Street, Vision Street Wear, [and] Santa Cruz introduced me to things I'd never seen before. Their graphics became a huge influence on my drawing. Drawing is just like skateboarding, you decide what you want to draw. Back...Read more
'Screaming Hand' brings artists and skateboarders together for one nightDowntown Devil, February 4th
This image has stood the test of time and is still printed on Santa Cruz brand T-shirts and skateboard decks today. The original Screaming Hand Logo was inspired by the image of a drowning surfer's clenched hand sticking out of the water. (Courtesy of...Read more
My Economy: The divided life of business at the borderMarketplace.org, February 3rd
The walls are splashed with the colors of skateboard decks, shoes and hats. Urbina grew up the son of a successful Mexican business man. He says he's launched several businesses, but this is the first one that shows promise. “I'm break even. I'm living...Read more
Truckee nonprofit Positively Rolling awarded $13000 in grantsSierra Sun, February 3rd
Positively Rolling operates under the umbrella of SELS and is funded through donations and community grants. Such funding covers the costs of skateboard decks and art supplies. In Truckee, donation bins are located at Clever Minds, Alder Creek Middle ...Read more
Skateboard Upcycling: 5 Ideen für alte Skateboard-DecksAusgefallene Geschenkideen (Blog), January 12th
Kurz gesagt hängen an den Brettern jede Menge Erinnerungen. Wer es nicht über das Herz bringt, sein altes, vielleicht sogar unbrauchbares Deck wegzuschmeißen, für den haben wir hier fünf Ideen zum Skateboard Upcycling. Statt dein Skateboard-Deck ...Read more