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How Has Skateboarding Changed Over The Years?

How Has Skateboarding Changed Over The Years?

Roughly 11 million people enjoy skateboarding regularly, including core skaters, casual riders and even a new form of skating: the electric powered skateboard user. But it hasn’t always been that way.

The skate industry has come a long way over the last decades, from practically nonexistent to battery-powered skateboards cruising along the streets and as an Olympic sport. Here’s a look at the evolution of skateboarding, the history and trajectory of this popular pastime.

Over the past 70 years, skateboarding went through a kind of evolution

infographic about evolution of skateboarding


1950s - how has skateboarding changed over the years

In the 1950s, back when motorized longboards were not even conceivable, a few kids in the United States took the skates off their roller skates and attached them to a long and thick board. It was a way to enjoy the feeling of riding a wave when the swell was small. Since surfing was becoming popular, people wanted a way to “sidewalk surf” or “asphalt surf”, and thus, the skateboard was born and quickly spread throughout the United States.

1960s - how has skateboarding changed over the years

Skate in the 1960s was wholly connected to and influenced by the surf. Because of it, surf companies started manufacturing and selling high-quality skateboards with clay wheels and trucks throughout California. Fashion caught on, and the first skate to be mass-produced was Roller Derby.

Initially called sidewalk surfing or asphalt surf, as it was seeing as an extension of the beach on the asphalt when the surf was flat, it has become very popular among teenagers. They had created an identity with its maneuvers and thus gained its definitive name in 1963: Skateboard. 

After that, it was at this moment the vertical skateboard was born. During the great drought in California, the pools were emptied, and the surfers/skaters discovered that it was possible to have fun skating on walls, which resembled the transitions of the surf waves.

Quick facts:

  • The first Skate Championship took place in Hermosa Beach, Southern California, in 1963.
  • The first skateboard magazine in the world was The Quarterly Skateboarder, launched in 1964 in the United States.

    1970s - how has skateboarding changed over the years

    In the early years of skateboarding, the boards were extremely loud, bumpy and, hard to carve. The 1970s was a critical decade for equipment and components evolution. The invention of urethane wheels changed the industry. Before that, the wheels were made of iron and bakelite, a type of hard plastic, both very slippery and insecure, making maneuvers difficult. Another milestone in the evolution of skating was the invention of the kicktail to improve balance and maneuvers.

    Due to the growing number of skaters, several specific skateboarding places have emerged, the so-called skate parks. By the end of the decade, there were more than 400 skateparks in the United States. With more space to practice, skaters were getting more audacious. 

    • The first air - Frontside Air- by Jeff Tatum in 1977;
    • The first ollie - Frontside Ollie - by Allan Gelfand in 1978. The date is considered to be the birth of street skateboarding;
    • The first loop- full 360-degree rotation - by Duane Peters in 1979

      However, due to the countless accidents in the skate parks and the high paid values ​​of indemnities and insurance, many places closed. The demand decreased drastically, which caused a collapse in the skate industry, closing many companies, and losing sponsorship of almost all professional skaters.

      At the end of this decade, skate created its own identity, linking itself more with the counter-culture born at the time, making it a rebel sport.

      1980s - how has skateboarding changed over the years

      Skateboarding in the 1980s was characterized by an explosion of wooden ramps made by skateboarders themselves in streets, squares, and backyards due to the current crisis. Skaters could be seen grinding on skateparks’ rails during the evenings and running their very own skate companies during the day. It was the do-it-yourself culture and the technology development in the period that made skate equipment evolve a lot in a short time.

      Skate movies and specialized magazines become more popular than ever during the 1980s. In 1984, Stacy Peralta and George Powell released the first VHS video of a skate team called The Bones Brigade Video Show, revolutionizing the market, featuring Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain, Rodney Mullen and others. In 1985, skate became the backdrop for the film Back to the future, in 1986 for Thrashin, and in 1989 for Gleaming the cube. 

      1900s - how has skateboarding changed over the years

      The 1990s brought skateboarding into the mainstream as ESPN started broadcasting the X Games, which began to clean up the image of skateboarding as a rebel sport. It was the first step to put skateboarding in the “mainstream” and once again popularize it.

      At the end of 1999, the video game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was released, which would make it the best selling and most popular in the world, later ported to Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color and Dreamcast. 

      2000s - how has skateboarding changed over the years

      The 2000s is the decade where skateboard events become popular on mainstream TV. There were shows or major skate competitions across the United States such as X-Games, Dew Tour, Gravity Games, Tony Hawk Gigantesc Tour, and the Maloof Money Cup with a live broadcast by the main TV networks the world and millionaire awards. In 2002, Danny Way invented the Mega Rampa during a ‘pay per view’ TV show in the United States, taking Vertical Skate to levels never seen before.

      This decade skaters were hungry to break records: 

      • In 2007, Rob Dyrdek performed the longest boardslide - 100 feet and 5.75 inches;
      • In 2008, Zach Kral pulled off 1,546 consecutive kickflips on a skateboard;
      • In 2009, Rob Dyrdek and Joe Ciaglia shaped the world’s largest skateboard;

      Professional skateboards made frequent world tours passing through all continents and participating in brand advertising outside the skate universe: Bob Burnquist for Toyota, for example. Skate is once again the subject of films and documentaries such as Z-boys and Dogtown, Who Cares: The Duane Peters Story, Lords of Dogtown etc.

      In 2004, the Internation Skateboarding Federation (ISF) was founded, and the Go Skateboarding Day was created. 

      ederation (ISF) was founded, and the Go Skateboarding Day was created. 


      2010s & beyond - how has skateboarding changed over the years

      Skate is solidified and popularized as never before, widely publicized on TV whether by broadcasting championships or by advertisements from many companies outside the market, better accepted by society, having its demands met by the government through the construction of skate parks and the creation of its own public policy. With the concerns about climate change and other environmental issues, the skateboard is part of the e-mobility trend. People are using an electric skateboard for commuting as a way to avoid using cars and public transport.

      As a modality, this decade was an important one for athletes worldwide with many skateboarding competitions. In 2010, professional street skater Rob Dyrdek created the Street League Skateboarding, an international invitation-only competition with millionaire awards and live broadcasts on TV and the internet. A few years later, in 2016, the modality left the extreme sports bubble to become an Olimpic Sport


      Future of electric skateboard

      Electric skateboard is just what this high-tech world needed. The ability to skate electric could bring in an entirely new demographic to the skate industry. Skateboarding is typically for teenagers to get out of the house for a few hours, but electric powered skateboards can be used by any young professional who wants a fun (and energy-efficient) way to travel to and from work. Currently, there are so many styles to choose from: off-road electric skateboards, street skateboards, bamboo skateboards and carbon skateboards. At Evolve, we have currently 3 series: Evolve Hadean Series, Evolve GTR Series and the Evolve Stoke

      There is no telling what exactly is to come of the skateboarding industry. But there will always be plenty of people who love riding through life on four wheels and a nice board, whether it’s motorized or not. 

      In the video below, Jeff Anning, the owner and founder of Evolve Skateboards talks about the current state of personal electric mobility, advancements in technology, competitions and the future of Skateting. Check it out 👇👇👇

      FAQ Evolution of Skateboards

      How have skateboards evolved in terms of design and technology

      Skateboards have undergone significant evolution in design and technology, with advancements such as lighter and more durable materials, improved concave shapes for better control, and innovations like electric skateboards introducing new possibilities for transportation and riding.

      What are the key advancements that have shaped the evolution of skateboards?

      Key advancements in the evolution of skateboards include the development of specialized skateboard trucks, the introduction of polyurethane wheels for better grip and smoothness, and the incorporation of advanced bearing systems, all contributing to enhanced performance and maneuverability.

      How has the evolution of skateboards influenced the sport and the riding experience?

      The evolution of skateboards has had a profound impact on the sport and riding experience, enabling riders to push the boundaries of tricks and styles, enhancing speed and stability, and offering diverse options tailored to different terrains and disciplines, ultimately shaping the dynamic and creative culture of skateboarding. 

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