The history of inline skates and Roller Blade
Inline skates and the concept of a roller blades inline skate have been around for much longer than you might think. They didn’t always have the familiar look they have today. The first skates were “introduced” in 1735, by John Joseph Merlin. He made them for a masquerade party in London and they were supposed to be a joke. The night didn’t end up very well for him. Since he wasn’t a good skater, he crashed into a mirror at one point. This happened because these skates had the wheel setting which resembled the way inline skates have but these were far less maneuverable than the modern day inline skates.
Not many people were interested in skating back then so many years had passed until another inventor become interested in them. Monsieur Petitbled made first the patented inline skates in 1819. They had three wheels made of wood, ivory or metal. They were very rigid and difficult to ride. The only thing the skater could do was skate in the straight line without turning. The skates didn’t change their wheel configuration for the next 120 years. Until James Leonard Plimpton, also known as the father of roller skating, revolutionized the sport. He invented the four-wheel skates in the 2×2 formation and with a mechanism which allowed the skater to pivot the skate and make turns. Shortly after that he also built a skating ring and leased his skates. In order to promote the sport even further, he founded the New York Roller Skating Association.
After this, roller skating started becoming more popular. The rise in popularity made the skates a point of interest for many inventors, who started creating different types of skates. However they didn’t have much success. One of those inventions were roller skates with toe stop. It allowed skaters to easily stop by tipping the skate onto the toe. This invention is still used today on most quad skates and in some inline skates. They remained almost unchanged for over a century.
Inline skates which resemble ice skates were introduced in 1977, as a prop for a movie. Only a few years later Scott and Brennan Olson came across inline skates and realized their potential for off-ice hockey training. They redesigned the skates using the modern materials and attaching them to ice hockey boots. After realizing the potential inline skates had, Scott Olson started promoting them and founded one of the most well-known skates company, Rollerblade, Inc.
During the 80s and 90s, inline skating became increasingly popular, so much that they became more popular than quad skates (the 2X2 wheel design), thus inspiring other companies to start creating their own models. Being the first to make modern inline skates the Rollerblade brand became a synonym for inline skating, hence the term “roller blading”.
The first inline skates had a hard, plastic boot, like the ski boot. K2 Inc. introduced the soft boot in 1995 and promoted these skates as fitness skates. Others followed quickly, so now the hard shell is left for aggressive skating or other specialized designs, while all other have the soft boot design.
It is impressive to thing about for how long they’ve been around and how much they’ve changed over time. Their popularity is still growing and the companies that make them are constantly introducing new designs and materials. There are already thousands of models on the market, but the race for the perfect inline skate will never end.
Some of the most popular Rollerblade models of roller blade inline skates are