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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

On-Line Skateboard Museum

On-Line Skateboard Museum

This excellent gallery of vintage skateboards, with pictures and historical descriptions, showcases 80 years of col… [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Skateboard Powell Peralta Caballero 1986 Original Deck Alva Sma Sims 101Skateboard Vintage Nos Sma Powell Santa Cruz Sims Dogtown Santa Monica Airlines Very Rare Nos Vintage Skateboard Deck Natas Kaupas Santa Cruz Powell PeraltaSkateboard Nos Original 80's Deck Rare Og Santa Cruz World Industries Ron Chatman Experience Used Vintage Skateboard Deck 90’sNos Girl Guy Mariano 90’s Vintage Skateboard New Rare Powell Peralta 1994Nos Girl Jovontae Turner 90’s Vintage Skateboard New Rare Chocolate 1994Rare Vintage Gordon & Smith (g&s) Neil Blender Skateboard, As FoundVintage Powell Peralta Bones Skateboard Rare 1979 Ray “bones” Rodriguez '80's Sims Snakes Skateboard WheelsSkateboard Blind Rare Sims Alva 101 World Santacruz Sma Deck Rare Jason LeeMike Mcgill Powell Peralta Skateboard Xt MiniJeff Grosso Skateboard Deck Cease And Desist C&d Santa Cruz Alice In WonderlandNos Vintage G&s Rollerball Skateboard WheelsSteve Caballero Skateboard Deck Powell Peralta Vintage Dragon Bats Old SchoolPowell Peralta Bones Brigade Tony Hawk Chicken Skull Skateboard Baby BlueVintage Skateboard Sma Santa Cruz Powell Peralta Alva 101 Blind Sma Natas NosNos Natas 101 9 Lives Blind World SmaNos Powell&peralta Skull And Sword XtVintage 1990 Santa Cruz Corey O'brien "purgatory" Nos Skateboard Deck Rare ColorVintage Oj Slalom Skateboard WheelsJeramy Klein Skateboard Birdhouse Skateboard Rare Tony Hawk Natas Mark Gonzales Vintage Skateboard Gullwing Super Pro 9" With Original Kryptonics 63mm Double CoVintage 1980s Powell Peralta Tony Hawk Birdclaw Skateboard Deck! Nice!!! See PicKrooked Kronichles Skateboard Video Dvd Skate Gonz Antihero Dlx Mark Gonzales 15 Lot Vintage 80s 90s Skate Skateboard Video Vhs Dvd Powell Peralta VisionG&s Beastie Boys Skateboard Deck Slick Old Vintage Vision Powell Supreme Joy Division Peter Saville Skateboard Deck New Order Nos Natas "drunk Cat" Sma Santa Cruz 101Supreme 2000 Deck Skateboard Wood GrainNos Girl Rudy Johnson 90’s Vintage Skateboard New Rare 101 1994Nos Girl Rudy Johnson 90’s Vintage Skateboard New Rare New Deal 1994Vintage Skateboard Vision John Grigley 2 1988Santa Cruz Claus Grabke Used Vintage Skateboard Deck 80’s SpecialPowell Peralta Tony Hawk Signed Reissue Skateboard Deck With CoaVlone X Fragment Skate DeckVintage 1989 Powell-peralta Ray Barbee Ragdoll Skateboard Deck/complete -nos-Vintage 1960s Hobie Super Surfer Skateboard 30" |all Original!| Multi Laminated G&s Doug Saladino Pine Design Deck Reissue Sims Acs Hobie Powell Variflex AlvaPowell Peralta Skate Deck Tony Hawk "claw", Mint StatusNew Limited Edition Supreme Ss 2013 - Set Of 2 Gold And Silver Skateboard DecksPowell Peralta. Mike Vallely SkateboardVintage Sims Pure Juice Skateboard WheelsNew Deal Andrew Morrison Used Vintage Skateboard Deck 80’sShorty's Chad Muska Camouflage Vintage 98 Backpack Dissizit Skate Skateboard Deck Rare Supreme Fa Stussy Kaws Pop Art Kate MossVintage Sims Lonnie Toft Designs Skateboard 1976 Bennett/ Road Rider 4Bootleg Skateboards Scott Kane Fast Times At Ridgemont High Deck Baker SpicoliMike Vallely Barnyard World Industries & Circus Elephant Skateboard Marc MckeePowell Peralta Mike Vallely 2009 Reissue SkateboardSteve Caballero Powell Peralta Skateboard Full Dragon Early Reissue Navy BlueVintage Skateboard Hobie Competition Fiberglass Skateboard 24x5.75 Original BoxMike Hill Regretter Ss17 Supreme Skate DeckNos Santa Cruz Tom Knox Robt Robert Williams Art Hot Rod Horror Skateboard Deck Vintage Skateboard G$s Fibreflex Old School - Kicktail ModelPowell Peralta Per Welinder Street Style 2010 Skateboard Deck Blue ReissueVintage 1988 Vision Jinx Skateboard Marty Jimenez G & S Complete Old SchoolBones Brigade Mike Mcgill Series 9 Pink Reissue Skateboard Deck New Sold Out1980's Psycho Pushead Thrasher Skateboard Magazine Usa Belton Tee Shirt Medium Old School Skateboard Complete With Super Surfer Trucks & Wheels