Before Nike and its ubiquitous swoosh, there was a little company called Blue Ribbon Sports, founded in 1964. Track-and-field coach Bill Bowerman partnered with middle-distance runner Phil Knight to open the Portland, Oregon, shop primarily as a local distributor for the Japanese shoe brand Onitsuka Tiger.

By the late 1960s, Bowerman had begun developing his own shoes released under the Onitsuka name, like the famous Cortez design in 1969. In 1971, at the suggestion of their first employee, Jeff Johnson, the owners rebranded as Nike, a name inspired by the mythical Greek goddess of victory. To go along with the new name, Portland State student Carolyn Davidson designed the company’s “swoosh” logo.

That same year, while Bowerman and his wife were making breakfast one day, he became fixated on the grid pattern of their waffle-iron and set out to adapt the shape for the soles of his athletic shoes. Previously, most athletic shoes had flat soles that were less supportive of the foot. Bowerman later received Nike’s first patent for the so-called Waffle Trainer, featuring an inverted waffle-pattern with square rubber-and-latex nubs.

Nike released its own version of the Cortez design in 1972, featuring an outsole lined with thin ridges nearly identical to the Onitsuka version. Nike continued to improve on its patterned soles with 1972’s Moon Shoe, worn by marathoner Bruce Mortenson at that year's Olympic Trials, and 1973’s Waffle Racer, modeled on a prototype worn by Steve Prefontaine at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Developed by former NASA engineer M. Frank Rudy, the brand’s famous Air Cushioned Technology, incorporating air-filled padding into the shoes’ midsoles, debuted in 1978 with the Air Tailwind.

Romanian tennis champ Ilie Nastase, known as the “Bucharest Buffoon,” signed Nike’s first endorsement contract in 1972—a decade later, the company would be the largest supplier of athletic shoes in the United States. In 1985, the company created a new shoe with air-cushioned soles for NBA rookie Michael Jordan, whose star power made the Air Jordans an instant collectible. After the NBA famously banned the original Air Jordan design for disregarding the league’s color guidelines, Nike paid Jordan’s fines so he could keep wearing them on the court.

In 1987, the company dropped a modified version of the air technology with the Air Max 1 running shoes, which relied on a larger air pouch displayed through a small transparent window on the side of the heel. The next year, the first campaign to use the slogan “Just do it” launched with an ad featuring Walt Stack, an 80-year-old San Francisco runner, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Since then, Nike has deliberately created a vibrant secondary market for its shoes by offering new designs in several colorways and limiting the total production, thus encouraging fans to collect and trade the scarce products. The company also regularly brings vintage designs out of its vault and reinvigorates them with slight tweaks aimed at modern buyers.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Girls Justice Clothing Lot Nike Under Armour Sz 6 7 8 Leggings Jeans Shirts CamiBoys Athletic Pant Lot Of 6: Under Armour Adidas Nike Puma Air Jordan Size L XlBoys Clothes Size 5/6 Lot Of 25 Levis Nike Under Armour Gymboree Fall14pc Boy Lot * All Nike * Under Armour School Lot Sz L Large 14/16 Hoodie ShirtsBoy's Size Large Under Armour Nike LotLot Of 7 Boys Shirts, Size Youth Medium, Under Armour, NikeNike Kobe Ix Premium Htm White / Multicolor Nike Air Zoom Lebron 3 Sz 11 Ds Superman Croc Skin Mega Rare Sample 2011 PromoNike Hyperadapt 1.0Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 E.a.r.l Black Power Lace Up Size 9 843871-001Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 Black Blue Lagoon Size 13 843871-001 Hyper Adapt Auto LacingVlone X Nike Air Force 1 High London Sample 9us 773257-2 A$ap Supreme Yeezy Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 Black/white/blue LagoonNike Hyperadapt 1.0 Black/white-blue LagoonNike Hyperadapt 1.0 Black Shoes Hyperadapt Self Lacing Size8.5 Kobe Jordan Nike Hyperadapt 1.0Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 Black/white-blue LagoonNike Hyperadapt 1.0 Black Size 9 With Receipt.Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 Size 8.5Nike Hyperadapt 1.0 Blue Lagoon (self-lacing) Deadstock Ds Size 12New Nike Hyperadapt Black 1.0 Sz. 11 843871 001 White Blue Lagoon Hyper Adapt DsMen Nike Mars Yard 2.0 Size 9.5 Nike X Tom Sachs Nikecraft Mars Yard Shoes 2.0 Nikelab Aa2261-100 Size 9Nike Air Yeezy 1 Zen Grey Us Size 11 Kanye WestNike Air Yeezy 1 Blink Us Size 11 Kanye WestNike Air Yeezy 1 Net Tan Us Size 11 Kanye WestBrand New 1985 Original Nike Air Jordan 1 Chicago Og Vintage Sz9Nike Air Jordan 6 Retro Vi Db Doernbecher Size 12Nike HyperadaptNike Kobe Ix 9 Elite La Lakers Home Pe Promo Sample White Purple Gold Yellow 14Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Iv 4 Kaws Sz 11 930155-003 Cool Grey Glow In Dark SupremNike Foamposite Oregon Ducks Size 13 Worn Once Nike Supreme Air More Uptempo Black Size 62017 Supreme X Nike UptempoNike Dunk High Premium Sb Skunks Nike Craft X Tom Sachs Mars Yard 2017 2.0 Size 8.5Nike Air Jordan 1 One X Off-white Up Coming New Yeezy Supreme Aj1 Offwhite RetroNike Hyperadapt 1.0 Size 11Nike Air Jordan Retro 9 "olive" Size 7.5 BredNike Air Presto Mid Acronym Preowned Men's Size 10Nike Air Jordan Golf Shoes Retro 1 Chicago Og Size 10 Ds Golf ! Royal , Bred Og100% Authentic Nike Air Jordan Retro 4 KawsNike Air Max 1 Premium Qs Patta Corduroy 2009 Blue White 366379 400 Size 112002 Nike Air Jordan Og Xvii 17 Wizards College Royal Blue Sz 10 Deadstock BnNike Air Yeezy 2 Solar Red! Size 11 Amazing Condition. Stock X Proof Of PurchaseNike Pg 1 Promo Eybl Paul George Size 9.5Lebron 8 Pre Heat Size 9.5 South Beach Nike Jordan YeezyNike Sb Zoom Dunk High Prem Sz 4Nike Air Jordan 1 One X Off-white Up Coming New Yeezy Supreme Aj1 Offwhite RetroNike Dunk Low Pro Sb Jedi Khaki Baroque Brown Safari Olive 304292-222 Ds Sz 12Nike Air Jordan 6/7 Bred Infrared Carmine Playoff Hare Dmp Golden Moment Size 13Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Running Shoe Size Men 9 / Women 10.5 #880847-401100% Authentic Brand New Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Doernbecher Sz 10.5 308497 015Nike Air Jordan Vii 7 Retro Oc Wht/sport Red-gold Miro Olympic Sz 9Nike Air Jordan 12 Xii Public School Psny Size 8Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Kaws Size 12Nike Supreme Uptempo Size 9.5Bnib Nike Air Jordan Retro 1 High Og Bred Us 10.5 Ds 2016 Kaws Banned Royal XiNike Air Jordan 10 X Retro Ovo Drake Summit White Gold 819955-100 New Size 10Nike Air Jordan Ix Retro 9 Pinnacle Baseball Glove Pack *still Sealed* Sz 10.5