If you’re a skater, then you know that roller skates have been around for centuries—but who invented them?
In this short article, we’ll take a quick look at the history and evolution of roller skates and answer the question: who invented roller skates?
Roller skates have been around since the 1700s when Dutchman John Joseph Merlin created a pair of wooden rollerskates.
His invention was meant to be used for “leisurely amusement,” and his design featured two wooden boxes on the bottom of each foot that could be propelled along by pushing off with one foot. Unfortunately, Merlin did not patent his invention, so it quickly faded away into obscurity.
Fast forward to 1818 when Frenchman M. Petitbled patented an in-line skate design. This design featured three metal wheels attached to the sole of each shoe—and it was actually quite similar to modern-day inline skates.
Petitbled's invention gained some traction over the years, but it wasn't until 1863 when inventor James Plimpton developed the quad skate that roller skating really took off. Plimpton's quad skate featured four wheels arranged in a square pattern—two on either side of each boot—and he also added ball bearings and rubber stoppers to make turning easier.
This innovation made skating more comfortable and enjoyable, thus leading to its surge in popularity during the late 19th century.
So there you have it: John Joseph Merlin is credited with inventing roller skates back in the 1700s while M. Petitbled and James Plimpton each made their own contributions towards modernizing them in 1818 and 1863 respectively.
Today, roller skaters can enjoy a wide variety of designs—from traditional quads to inline models—thanks to these three innovators for bringing us this beloved form of transportation!
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