Skateboard History Timeline

This timeline of the history of skateboarding should help you understand the history of skateboarding, and how skateboarding has evolved. This timeline covers the biggest and most impacting events. For a more detailed story of the history of skateboarding, read The History of Skateboarding. If you think anything should be added to this timeline, feel free to let me know.


SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 26: Colin McKay leaps into the air aboard his skateboard during an event of the ESPN X-Games on June 26, 1997 at Mariner's Point in San Diego, California.
Jamie Squire /Getty Images

At some point in the 1950's, skateboarding is born in California. No one knows the exact year, or who was the first to do it, though many claim credit. All we know for sure is that skateboarding has its roots in the culture of surfing.


The popularity of skateboarding grows rapidly as many non-surfers begin to skate. Skateboarding grows from street and pool riding to downhill slalom and freestyle (choreographed skateboarding to music).


Skateboarding reaches a peak in popularity. Skateboard brands have grown up, and start holding skateboarding competitions.


Skateboarding takes a sudden dive in popularity. Many people assume that skateboarding was just a fad.


Skateboarding continues, but with a lot fewer people skating. Skateboard companies die out one at a time, and skaters are forced to create much of their own equipment.


Frank Nasworthy invents urethane skateboard wheels. Until this point, skaters used clay, or even metal wheels. These wheels spark new interest in skateboarding.


The Ocean Festival is held in Del Mar, California. It's a traditional freestyle and slalom contest, but the Zephyr team arrived and blew the contest away with a new agressive, innovative style of skateboarding. This event catapults skateboarding into the public eye. The most famous of these Zephyr team riders were Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta (Read more about the Zephyr team).


Alan Gelfand invents the Ollie.


Skateboarding takes a second dive in popularity. Insurance rates for skate parks rise dramatically, and many skate parks have to close.


Skaters continue to skate, but in a more underground way. Small privately owned skateboard companies pop up, owned by skaters. These small companies encourage creativity in designs. Skateboarding evolves into an even more personal style of expression.


Stacey Peralta teams up with George Powell to create the first skateboarding video - the Bones Brigade Video Show. Skateboard videos become a new way for skaters to feel like they are part of something larger, and shows newer skaters what's possible. Skateboarding begins to form a more unified skateboarding culture.


Skateboarding begins another dive in popularity. It's not as bad as the previous ones, but it hits vert skateboarding the hardest. Most skaters only skate street. Pro vert skaters fall on hard times.


The movie Gleaming the Cube comes out, starring Christian Slater as a skateboarding teenager. The movie has cameos from famous skaters like Tony Hawk, and makes a strong impact on people's view of skateboarders.


Street skateboarding grows in popularity, but with a new edge. Skateboarding grows along with punk culture, and skateboarding gains a strong angry image.


is founded, to oversee the biggest skateboarding competitions all over the world. World Cup Skateboarding also functions to regulate points from one event to another, in order to give a general idea of how professional skateboarding is progressing, and how pro skaters do from contest to contest.


The first X Games are held, giving a lot of attention to skateboarding. The X Games bring in new money and interest, helping to propel skateboarding in popularity, and pushing skaters to new levels of invention (read more about the History of the X Games.


Because of 1997's Winter X Games attention, skateboarding becomes classified as an "Extreme Sport". Many skaters rebel against this classification, and resent skateboarding's slide into the mainstream.


Throughout the 2000s, skateboarding contests and competitions grow in popularity. The Dew Tour begins in 2005 and quickly grows to rival the X Games. Small local contests and international skateboard contests pop up all over the world. Skateboarding becomes mostly mainstream, but retains a strong dose of the punk, anti-establishment, individualistic attitude.


Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 comes out for Nintendo 64, and is a major hit. This generates even more attention for skateboarding. The game has been followed by many Tony Hawk video games, each one a hit.


The International Skateboarding Federation is founded, and takes the lead in talking to the International Olympic Committee about adding skateboarding to the Olympics. The reaction in the skateboarding community ranges from excitement to outrage.


The International Association of Skateboard Companies founds Go Skateboarding Day, and sets it for June 21st.


The Lords of Dogtown movie comes out, telling the story of the Zephyr team.