One of the biggest crazes to ever hit children and teenagers of our generation has been skateboarding. But how many of you know that it actually started as early as the 1950s and its popularity coincided with the surfing mania in California at that time? That’s true. In those early days, skateboards were all homemade and made of wooden planks that were attached to roller-skate trucks and wheels. It wasn’t even known as skateboarding yet, rather as “sidewalk surfing.” It’s best practitioners were guys who simply imitated the styles and moves of the top surfers of the time. Some people say skateboards merely evolved from “crate scooters” which looked exactly like a skateboard except that it had handlebars like a regular scooter.
When the sixties came around, skateboarding began to really take off. There were now skateboard manufacturers such as Hobie and Makaha which were actually top surfing manufacturers. Their early products looked much like the surfboards of the time. Skateboarding became so popular that a magazine dedicated to it was produced regularly. There was even an international skateboarding championship in 1965 that was telecast on national television. In terms of sales, records show that Makaha’s skateboard sales figures reached the $4 million mark from 1963 to 1965, which was truly a lot in those days. However, by 1965, the skateboard fad was over. Sales dropped significantly and the skateboarding magazine closed shop.
The second generation of skateboarders made their presence felt in the early seventies. It started when Frank Nasworthy was able to invent a skateboard wheel made out of polyurethane, which gave skateboarders improved traction and performance. The new product was such a big hit that skateboarding became in vogue among children and teens once again as well as many young adults. More companies tried to invent their own skateboarding innovations, including special axles that were designed specifically for skateboarding. And as the skateboards became more maneuverable and controllable, the decks began getting wider — as wide as 10 inches and sometimes over. There was a lot of experimentation in skateboards at the time, including the use of aluminum and fiberglass to replace the standard material for skateboards, maple plywood. Soon enough, the new craze was all about who could pull off the best tricks. And the best was yet to come.