Though skateboards were around in the early 50's and 60's and actually very widely used back then they weren't well made and so eventually died out. The early ones were basically just milk crates with roller skate wheels and maybe a handle. More like a scooter. The wheels were the big problem, being mostly of clay, and resulted in lots of accidents from slipping or breaking and causing a fall. Even with better boards the wheels still created difficulty, and the sport pretty well died out in the mid-60's.
It wasn't until the 1970's that Frank Nasworthy, a surfer, developed a wheel made from urethane and then added precision bearings, and bolted them to a good quality board. The sport took off again.
The first skateboard parks from that time were mainly empty pools but lots of great moves and jumps were developed during that time, including the famous "ollie", a no hands aerial. Accidents and then the ever-increasing liability insurance killed the sport a second time and by the 1980's most of the parks had closed down.
In the 1990's the sport regained popularity and though it has had some fluctuations since it has mainly grown and developed over the past few decades.
Over the years I've often heard it said that this sport wouldn't last. It was just a fad. But it has developed from an activity into a relevant sport and now is widely followed around the world. The focus on tricks and jumps, great artwork on boards, clothing lines, shoes, skateboard posters, and even music has enhanced the image.
Throughout these years there have been increases in the quality of boards and wheels but mainly the concept didn't change much, until now. Coming up are some radical new designs. The S-Board is a board that twists in the middle and has only a single front and single rear wheel. The ride is apparently very much like snowboarding.
Then there's the Australian Bushpig, motorized skateboard (sort of), that does 20mph. Gotta get me one of those.
And the ultimate so far? That has to be Danny Way and his jump over the Great Wall of China. I wonder if his jump could be seen from space? hmmmm.
About the Author: Philip G. Jones, Phil is a freelance writer and co-owner of http://www.artinspires.com His favorite print is ?Seize The Day-Skateboarder? a motivational print