Who Invented Roller Skates?
The first pair of roller skates was worn in 1760 by Joseph Merlin, a musical instrument maker who loved to invent things. Invited to a costume party, Merlin arrived with his newly-made skates. He put them on and rolled into the ballroom playing a violin.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t learned how to stop or change directions. He sailed wildly across the floor and crashed into a large mirror.
He smashed the mirror, broke his violin, and cut himself severely. But the idea soon caught on, and people have been rolling along on roller skates ever since.
Though many more inventors would create their own versions of the roller skate over the next century, it wasn’t until 1863, when James Plimpton tried his hand at this whole roller-skate-inventing thing, that there came into existence a skate actually capable of turning.
Plimpton’s four-wheeled skate made use of springy carriages called trucks that allowed the skater to turn by leaning in the direction of travel.
Plimpton built a roller rink in his New York furniture-business office, and he also established the New York Roller Skating Association to promote skating.