Archive for May 15th, 2014

May 15, 2014

Roller Skates

james plimpton

John Joseph Merlin

Roller skates are devices worn on the feet to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. The first roller skates were converted ice skates, with two inline wheels instead of a blade. Later the ‘quad’ style of roller skate became more popular consisting of four wheels arranged in the same configuration as a typical car.

The first patented roller skate was introduced in 1760 by Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin. His inline two wheelers were hard to steer and hard to stop because they didn’t have brakes, and as such were not very popular. In 1863, James Plimpton from Massachusetts invented the ‘rocking’ skate using a four wheel configuration for stability, and independent axles that turned by pressing to one side when the skater wanted to create an edge. It was a vast improvement on the Merlin design and was easier to use, driving the huge popularity roller skating through the 1930s. The Plimpton skate is still used today.

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