The first skateboards were made of wooden boxes, or boards, with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. These first skateboards resembled scooters, having a wooden crate attached to the front of the board. Over the time, the boxes turned into planks, similar to the decks today. Even though skateboarding originates much earlier, the sport as we know today was developed in the late 1940's and early 1950's, when Californian surfers were interested to find some activity to do when the waves were flat. That is why this was originally named sidewalk surfing with almost similar moves performed on the surfboard in the ocean.
By the 1960's Southern California already had a small number of surfing manufacturers such as Jack's, Kips', Hobie, Bing's and Makaha who started building skateboards similar to small surfboards.
The popularity of skateboarding was visible in the 1960s as the first skateboarding magazine began to publish. It was called The Quarterly Skateboarder, and the first issue was published in 1964. However, the magazine did not last for too long, and there were only four issues.1965 was the year of the first broadcast of an actual skateboarding competition. It was the National Skateboarding Championship held in Anaheim, California and the TV channel was ABC. As a relatively new sport, skateboarding in this period only had two disciplines – flatland freestyle and slalom downhill racing.
Patti McGee was one of the first women in this sport, as well as one of the earliest sponsored skateboarders. She was by one of the board manufacturers mentioned above, Hobie, as well as Vita Pak. Patti McGee was offered money to travel around the country and do skateboarding exhibitions. She was also required to demonstrate skateboarding safety tips for the young generations which fell in love with the sport. Patti was featured on the cover of Life magazine in 1965, and she made appearances on several popular television programs of the time.
In the late 1960's, the popularity of skateboarding significantly dropped, as it was claimed to be dangerous. As a result, many shops stop selling them since the parents were unwilling to buy them for their children in fear of possible injuries. This is also the reason the skateboarding magazine stopped publication.
In the early 1970's comes to the change which made an effect on the entire skateboarding world. Frank Nasworthy with his company Cadillac Wheels developed a skateboard wheel made of polyurethane. This was a big change to the previous use of materials such as metal or clay, because of improvement in traction and performance. After this, the popularity of the sport began to rise again. This was also a crucial point because of the new tricks which shaped the sport as it is today.
During this period, skateparks were still not in use. Therefore, the skateboarders were usually using places like reservoirs, particularly the one in San Diego, California. Skateboarding magazine, which again started to publish in the 1970's, would present the locations giving them nicknames such as the Tea Bowl, Bellagio, the Egg Bowl, the Fruit Bowl, the Rabbit Hole, Bird Bath, Upland Pool and the Sewer Slide.
In 1975 the sport was again at its peak, with one of the largest skateboarding competitions since the 1960's – the Del Mar National Championship. According to some sources, this contest had 500 competitors. The championship lasted two days with Bahne Skateboards and Cadillac Wheels as sponsors. Most prominent names of the competition are brilliant Russ Howell, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Peggy Oki and Stacy Peralta.
After this championship, the skateboarding contests started bringing cash and prizes with a professional ranking system. These tournaments were held throughout California.
1976 was the year when the first two skateparks were built. Skateboard City in Port Orange, Florida and Carlsbad Skatepark in San Diego County, California have opened in March just a week apart. In the next six years, almost 200 skateparks were built. It was due to the fact that skateparks became observed as a good investment and that the number of popular skateboarders rapidly grew. Some of these prominent skateboarders from the 1970's include Ty Page, Tom Inouye, Laura Thornhill, Berryman, Shogo Kubo, Desiree Von Essen, Ellen O'Neal, Kim Cespedes, Bob Biniak, Jana Payne, Bobby Piercy, Russ Howell, Ellen Henry Hester, Waldo Autry, Robin Logan, Gregg Ayres, Darren Ho, Robin Alaway, Paul Hackett, Edie Robertson, Michelle Matta, Bruce Logan, Steve Cathey, Mike Weed, David Hackett, Gregg Ayres, Darren Ho, and Tom Sims.
This was the era when the freestyle movement started to develop into a special discipline. It was characterized by the development of a range of different flat-ground tricks. This brought the stunt known as "vert" skating movement, which led to skate parks closures across the country. As a result, vert skaters started building their own ramps.
During the 1980's skateboard companies run by skateboarders begin to rise. It was the era of vert ramp skateboarding and tricks such as ollie and others. Since the most people were unable to afford to build the ramp, many of them were forced to skate on the street. The popularity of this style became instantly popular, making the skateboarders be creative and use the urban landscape and objects they had on hand. Street skateboarding became especially dominant during the late 1980's and 1990's.
Skaters were usually followed by different prejudices, which caused the government to be somehow overprotective to other citizens, not allowing skaters to build skateparks. After they had been convinced that skateparks are a better option than the riding on the street, they allowed the restorations of existing parks and building of new ones.
Nevertheless, the 1990's were marked by the street skateboarding which by this time became a cultural movement, often followed by punk, metal and hip-hop lifestyle. It was also the period when the style of boards changes, which also caused the shift in skateboarding style as well. That was a dramatic difference concerning the skateboarding in the 1970s. The boards became lighter and quicker, making tricks more manageable.