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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The Broken Deck Project shows how art can help overcome mental illnessCBC.ca, October 3rd
The art show and sale is being hosted by Outsider Insight and is called The Broken Deck Project — where broken skateboard decks (donated by PRO Skates) have become canvasses. It's just one of the recent endeavours by the organization, which has also ...Read more
Playdate: Grinding through 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5'Engadget, October 1st
What's more, we have four skateboard decks signed by Tony Hawk himself to giveaway! Join us for both starting at ... Four (4) winners will each receive one (1) Tony Hawk Full Skull 8.0 skateboard deck (signed by Tony Hawk). If you are chosen, you will...Read more
Active Ride Shop teams up with B4BCTransworld Business, October 1st
Partnering up with their friends over at B4BC, Active aims to raise $30,000 through sales of limited-edition Active x B4BC shirts, skateboard decks and socks. Get the details here: Rancho Cucamonga, CA – Oct. 1, 2015 – In an effort to stomp out breast...Read more
Mogwai Announces New Album Central Beltersmxdwn.com, September 29th
additional celebrations of Mogwai's 20th anniversary will “include the launch of a limited edition Mogwai gin in conjunction with The Good Spirits Company and a collaboration with Focus Scotland on a series of limited edition skateboard decks and t...Read more
Monday PM Hot Clicks: Renae Ayris; Jonathan Papelbon suspendedSports Illustrated, September 28th
The Kansas City Chiefs are headed to Lambeau to take on the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, and rather than relying on statistics or game tape, Tiffany Oshinsky is using a better measuring stick: Beer...Read more
Art of Board Energizes Monster Energy's Corporate EnvironmentTransworld Business, September 26th
The custom project required us to cut our skateboard decks long ways (not across as is standard). This allowed us to give them the largest tile possible given the average location of a typical break. Cutting across the deck would have cupped too much...Read more
Hooked On Art Festival highlights the visual and performing artsnwitimes.com, September 25th
Amber Hensell-Hicks, founder of Frontline, said the festival has "stuff for all ages and walks of life" including live music and skateboard decks. Four churches across Porter County are also coming together to make meals at the Church ... Artsmith...Read more
Skateboard deck made from cardboardGizmag, July 28th
After several rounds of testing, it held up very well without any breaking or tearing, so I proceeded to build it that way." Finally, the team handed the cardboard skateboard deck over to Tony Hawk to test. Check out the video below to see the design...Read more