I have over 40 years rolling on four wheels. The enjoyment I get from skateboarding is surpassed only by the joy I get when I get other people turned onto riding. Twenty years ago I knew that longboarding was going to have a dramatic effect on skateboarding. I knew instinctively it would be a catalyst that would reverberate worldwide. Unfortunately, a number of people in the skate industry didn’t really understand how longboarding would change things. I knew something was up and I went down to Sector 9 in 1997 to try acquire the distribution rights for Canada. While that never happened, I did wind up writing the book Concrete Wave – The History of Skateboarding and this eventually led to a TV series and a magazine. A catalyst is a person or thing that precipitates an event and when you look at the past 50 plus years of skateboarding, there are seven key catalysts. Of course, these are merely my choices and opinions. The purpose of this article is to give skaters a sense of history. As Bob Marley famously wrote (Buffalo Soldier), “if you know your history, then you would know where you’re coming from.” The 1st Catalyst – Makaha 1963You have to go all the way back to the early 1960’s to understand how skateboard catalysts work. Prior to Larry Stevenson creating the world’s professional skateboard, skaters had to settle for crappy metal-wheeled contraptions. Back in the 1950’s the Roller-Derby board sold for $5. This equates to about $44 today. Skateboards were thought of toys – and indeed they were.When Makaha came out with a larger deck and clay wheels, it launched a revolution. Pro surfers endorsed the brand, demos were plentiful and suddenly the baby boomers were in full swing. Larry Stevenson’s experience set the pace for the next 50 years in skateboarding. The boom was enormous. At the height, Makaha was receiving $50,000 a day in orders. As skateboarding grew in popularity, cities began to ban it, citing safety concerns. Clay wheels, while better than metal, were horrendous. By 1966 it all went bust and the industry collapsed. Things were to remain dormant for about 8 years. The 2nd Catalyst – Urethane Wheels – 1974 In 1974, the urethane wheel helped relaunch skateboarding’s 2nd boom. The reason was simple – the urethane wheels could grip much better than clay and metal. All Hail Frank Nasworthy!SkateBoarder was relaunched and became the bible of the sport and the images captured the imagination of a SECOND generation of skaters. This move from 1975 would have been impossible on clay wheels! By 1978, things had exploded. SkateBoarder published its biggest issue yet. At the height, there were and estimated 20 million skaters in the USA.However, by 1981, the popularity of skateboarding had dropped immensely.Some blame the closure of skateboard parks, and still others blame a glut of product. But if I were to lay the blame one single thing it would be that the industry and the skate media got too focused on one type of skater and skate environment. They failed to showcase an inclusive skate environment. The roots of skateboarding are flatland and downhill. It’s ditches and pools and any spot you scope out and start to ride. When the first skateboard parks were established, they contained some incredible terrain that duplicated what was out there. However, many skaters didn’t have access to the terrain they saw featured in the magazines. This focus on vert and mostly male skaters was to have a detrimental affect. Unfortunately this is something the industry finds itself doing. Myopia combined with tunnel vision makes things incredibly difficult from a business perspective. Tomorrow – the 3rd Catalyst.