top of page

The History of Inline Skating

The first known skates were created in the 1760s and possessed a single line of wheels. For the next century skate wheels followed this alignment. In 1819, in Paris, M. Petitbled patented the first roller skate, again utilizing three wheels in a row. During the next 40 years, all skates had an in-line set of wheels, varying in number (some had as many as six or a few as two) and in their design. These skates, however, lacked the ability to turn easily.


In 1863, James Plimpton revolutionized the roller skate by inventing a skate with four wheels, two pairs set side by side, also known as a quad skate. Because this skate allowed for greater control and ease of skating, the four-wheeled skate quickly came to dominate the industry. Though largely renounced in favor of the more popular quad skate, several companies continued to design skates using an inline set of wheels.


The Peck & Snyder Company patented an inline skate with two wheels in 1900. In 1905, John Jay Young in New York City patented an adjustable length clamp-on inline skate. In 1910, the Roller Hockey Skate Company designed a three wheel inline skate with a leather shoe, and in the 1930s the Best-Ever Built Skate Company manufactured an inline with three wheels close to the ground.


The inline skate Scott Olson saw which influenced his idea for Rollerblade skates was a 1966 Chicago Roller Skate Company skate. Possessing four wheels in a row, with the front and back wheel extending beyond the boot, the skate resembled the blade of an ice skate. The Olson brothers adopted and adapted this design, and with it caused a popular reaction to roller skating nearly unparalleled in the sport's history. The correct term to use when describing skating is inline roller skating or inline skating, not "rollerblading." Rollerblade is an inline skate manufacturer, not an activity.


All Rollerblades are inline roller skates, but not all inline roller skates are Rollerblades. It is unfortunate that the name Rollerblade has become equated in the public's mind with inline roller skating , for such an equation not only neglects the many other manufacturers, it also blurs the history of roller skating and the history of inline roller skates in particular. However, if you decide to use Rollerblade brand skates, then you will be Rollerblading, otherwise, the accurate term is inline skating.


  • 1819: The Petitbled, the first roller skate patented, an inline.

  • 1863: James Plimpton invents the quad skate and roller skate manufacturers nearly abandon inlines.

  • 1905: John Jay Young creates an inline adjustable roller skate.

  • 1966: Chicago Roller Skate Company manufactures their inline boot skate.


From The Evolution of the Roller Skate: 1820-Present, 175 Years of Inline Skating: pictured (clockwise from bottom): the French Petitbled from 1819, an 1860 inline of unknown manufacture, a model from 1994 produced by Rollerblade, Inc., and a 1930s clamp-on inline from the Best-Ever-Built Skate Company

  • 1980: Scott and Brennan Olson found Rollerblade, Inc.



  • 1986: Rollerblade, Inc., begins to market skates as fitness equipment.



  • 1988: Rollerblade produced first aggressive inline skate, Rollerblade Lightning TRS.

Chicago Rollerblade.jpg

1966 inline skate, Chicago Skate Co, which inspired Rollerblades


The 1996 World Inline Hockey Champions

Lugino ultra.jpg

  Modern racing inline skate

  • 1991: INLINE magazine, catering to aggressive skaters is launched.



  • 1992: USA Roller Skating's speed skating competition divides into quad and Inline divisions.



  • 1995: Aggressive Inline added to X-Games; removed 2005.



  • 1996: USA Roller Skating holds a separate division for inline artistic skating competitions for the first time.



  • 1997: Inline skates and skating accessories become a billion dollar international industry, with nearly 26 million Americans participating.



  • 1999: Inline hockey held at the Pan American Games in Canada.

bottom of page