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Who Invented Roller Skates

At some point or another in your life you have probably either used a pair of roller skates or watched someone else. Roller skates are shoe like creations with four wheels attached to the bottom. They have a brake stopper on the front of the shoe near the toe for slowing and stopping. In many ways they resemble ice skates and are used in the much the same way on hard surfaces such as concrete and road surfaces as ice skates are used on ice. In recent years they have been replaced by roller blades and other variations that are more stable and easy to control. Have you ever wondered who invented roller skates? If so read this article to learn more.

Who invented roller skates?
The first roller skates are said to have been invented in the early 1700’s by a Dutchman. He wanted to go skating in the summer and so attached wooden spools to strips of wood which he then attached to his shoes. This enabled him to roll in straight lines but not to corner. These first roller skates were called Skeelers. The man that is credited with the invention of the roller skate was a Belgium musician. In 1759 Joseph Merlin skated into a ballroom playing a violin. Unfortunately he had not thought of a way to stop and so crashed into the large ballroom mirrors and broke his violin. His introduction of the roller skate was a success however as the first pair of roller skates were sold in Belgium in 1760. The roller skate was first patented by a Frenchman named Monsieur Petitibled and were a wooden sole that attached to a boot. They had 2 to 4 rollers made of copper, wood or ivory attached to the bottom in a straight line. They were again not very maneuverable and could only achieve wide sweeping circles. Despite this public interest grew and the first public skating rinks were opened in 1857.

The Modern Day Roller Skate
In 1863 James Plimpton invented roller skates as we think of them today. They had two parallel sets of wheels, one beneath the ball of the foot and one set at the heel of the foot. The wheels were made of boxwood and mounted on rubber springs making it possible for people to corner smoothly. They were the first dry-land skates that could corner smoothly as ice skates did. After this invention roller skating became quite popular and many improvement were made. In 1876 William Brown of England patented a design for roller skate wheels designed on wheel and axels making the roller skate even more maneuverable. The toe stop was also patented in 1876 making it possible for people to stop by tipping forward onto the toe of the skate. The invention of the pin ball-bearing in 1884 also impacted the successfulness of roller skates. In 1908 Madison Square Gardens opened as a skating rink and 100’s more followed across the U.S and Europe. Roller skate design stayed much the same after this period and until about the late 20th century with only small changes such as plastic wheels.

Since then rollerblades have become more popular and are the choice of athletes the world round. These were first invented to be used for practice of ice bound sports such as hockey and ice skating during the summer months.

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