All roller skates in the first century were inline skates. The wheels were in a straight line. According to History of Roller Skating, by James Turner and Michael Zaidman, it was published by the National Museum of Roller Skating (Lincoln, Neb.). John Joseph Merlin was the first person to invent a roller skate. He was born in London in the 1760s.
The 18th century Europe is where the earliest known roller skates were made. These skates were often used in theatre and musical performances to imitate ice skating.
1819 – The First Patented Roller Skate Design
First patented roller skate design, in France by M. Petitbled. These skates were very similar to today’s inline skates but not very maneuverable.
Roller skating began in straight lines because it was difficult to turn or curve with primitive skate designs at the time.
Roller skating was a performance prop that was used only occasionally. It would not be widespread until the 1840s.
1840s – Roller Skating Is Popular For The First Time In History
In Berlin’s 1840s beer hall, waitresses used roller skates for their customers.
Roller skating was a common feature of ballet and opera in the late 1840s. This made roller skating very popular.
1850s – Roller Skates Rubber Wheels
Europe in the 1850s. With Technological advances. Rubber wheels were invented in 1859.
1863 – The First Four-Wheeled Turning Skates
James Plimpton, a Massachusetts resident, designed the first practical roller skate in 1863.
He broke with the inline design and used two pairs of parallel wheels, one near the heel and one near the front. The wheel pairs were attached to the boot by springy carriages, known as trucks.
This design was initially known as the “rocking” or “quad” skate. It allowed the skaters to shift easily on the skates to navigate turns and perform other maneuvers.
The United States and western Europe saw the rise of recreational roller-skating.
1878 – Roller Hockey Rook Place in London
The introduction of quad skates in 1863 was followed by the emergence of new sports that incorporated roller skates.
London hosted the first-ever game of roller hockey in 1878.
1880-1910 – Roller Skating Boomed In Popularity
Roller skates were mass-produced, and skating on rinks became a popular pastime in Europe, North America, and Australia.
During this time, specialized forms of roller skating emerged, such as speed skating and figure skating.
1890s – Speed Roller-Skating Events Begin
Speed roller-skating was popularized in the first quarter-century of the 20th century.
It all started in the 1890s. Major speed roller skating events for women and men involve racing clockwise on an oval track or open road.
These competitions follow the same rules and techniques as ice skating.
1910-1923 – Roller Skates Dancing & Figure Skating
Figure skating and dancing on roller skates were introduced in 1910 and 1923.
The proficiency testing and judging systems are the same as those for ice skating.
International competition in speed and artistic roller-skating and roller hockey are managed by the International Federation of Roller Sports. It was founded in 1924.
1930s-1950s: The Golden Age of Roller Skating
After a drop in popularity, roller skates became popular again between the 1930s and the 1950s.
This period is known as “The Golden Age of Roller Skating.”
This period saw the construction of many skating rinks with electric organ music throughout the United States.
1935 – Chicago First Roller Derby In History
Roller Derby was one of the first roller sports that reached the professional level.
In Chicago, the sport was started in 1935 as an endurance race between male-female couples. For 57,000 laps, the teams would circle a banked track. This distance was equal to a trip across America.
A few years later, Roller Derby was transformed into a contact sport.
There were two teams, each of five men and five women. The women would be competing against the women, while the men would face off against each other.
1970s – Roller Disco Starts to Widerspread
Roller disco was popularized in the 1970s. This type of skating was popularized by disco music, mainly among gay and black skaters.
1980s-1990s – Emerge of Inline-Skating
Inline skating with “rollerblades” was popular in the late 1980s and 1990s.
The popularity of roller skating dropped in the 21st century, but it regained its popularity during the COVID pandemic.
Roller skating is a long-standing link to Black American social movements and immigrant communities.
It has been especially important for women who participate in roller derby.
It is a popular hobby that is seen as whimsical and easily accessible.