Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The roller skate is a type of skate with wheels to be used on solid ground (as opposed to the ice skate which is to be used on ice. The three main forms of roller skate are the quad skate, which has its four wheels arranged in two rows, the inline skate, which has its wheels in a line, and the quintessence skate, which has one wheel per skate located under the ball of the foot.
Although inline skate designs were invented as early as the 18th century, and one version was patented in France in 1819, their use was relatively unknown until the early 1980s. This was largely due to the fact that these early inline skates of the 18th and 19th centuries were not very manoeuvrable. It was very difficult with these skates to do anything but move in a straight line and perhaps make wide sweeping turns.
The quad skate was first designed in 1863 in Massachusetts to attempt to change this. It was a huge success, living up to expectations. Arguably the most important advances in the realistic use of roller skates as a pleasurable hobby or pastime took place in Birmingham, England in 1876 when William Bown patented a design for the wheels of roller skates which embodied his effort to keep the two bearing surfaces of an axle, fixed and moving, apart. Bown worked closely with Joseph Henry Hughes who drew up the patent for a ball or roller bearing race for bicycle and carriage wheels which includes all the elements of an adjustable system in 1877. These two men are thus responsible for the modern day roller skate and skate board wheels as well as the ball bearing race inclusion in velocipedes later to become motorbikes and automobiles.
By the 1880s roller skating had become a popular pastime. The design of the quad skate has remained essentially unchanged since then, and in fact remained as the dominant roller skate design for a hundred and fourty years.
It was not until 1979 that Scott Olson and Brennan Olson of Minneapolis, Minnesota came across a pair of old inline skates and, seeing the potential for off-ice hockey training, set about re-designing the skates using modern materials and attaching ice hockey boots. A few years later Scott Olson began heavily promoting the skates and launched the company Rollerblade, which name many people often use when referring to inline skating, no matter what brand of skate they use.
For much of the 1980s and into the 1990s, inline skate models typically sold for general public use employed a hard plastic boot, similar to ski boots. But in about 1995, "soft boot" designs were introduced to the market, primarily by the sporting goods firm K2 Inc. , and promoted for use as fitness skates. Other companies quickly followed, and by the early 2000s the use of hard shell skates became primarily limited to the aggressive skating discipline.
The quintessence skate was made in 1988 by Miyshael F. Gailson of Caples Lake Resort California, for the purpose of X-C ski skating and telemark skiing training.
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