Not many people consider this when they go enjoy their favorite roller sport, but almost three centuries of history and constant tinkering occurred to bring us to where we are today with modern skates. You may be curious as to how all of this got its start, and what pivotal moments happened along the way, but two centuries is a lot to sort through. Here’s a brief synopsis of the evolution of roller skating and the competitive branches it has!
Roller Skating Timeline
- 1743: This is the first-ever recorded account of anyone using anything like roller skates. These first skates were used in a London stage performance, and the inventor is unknown.
- 1760: The first roller skates are invented! Though the first account was in the stage performance, this is the first-ever actual invention of what we know today. These skates were actually inline, believe it or not, and had small metal wheels. The inventor’s name was John Joseph Merlin.
- 1819: First patented roller skate design, in France by M. Petitbled. These skates are more similar to what we know today. It was very difficult to maneuver in this early design, and was difficult to do much else but move in a straight line.
- 1863: The quad roller skate makes its first appearance. This model of roller skate made it easier for the skater to turn.
- 1902: The Chicago Coliseum opens a public skating rink, and more than 7,000 people attend the grand opening.
- 1935: (Roller Derby)- Sports promoter, Leo Seltzer, looking for attractions to fill the Chicago Coliseum, created the Transcontinental Roller Derby, an endurance race featuring a team of one man and one woman, roller skating on a banked track. The sport was modeled after dance marathons and bike races, popular in the 30s.
- 1940 (Inline Hockey): The Roller Skating Rink Operators Association (RSROA) published a set of roller hockey rules drawn from a booklet by the NHL which was designed to grow interest in the playing of hockey on roller skates, not just ice.
- 1950’s (Inline Speed Skating) – When wheels are involved, people want to go as fast as they can. They also want to race their friends. Sometime around this time period is when inline speed skating came about.