Larry Stevenson is considered the “father of the skateboard.” Observing the slow evolution from squeaky roller skate wheels to smoother-riding clay wheels and flat 2x4s to flat 1×8 boards he saw few other technological advances. With his early insight into skateboarding as a part of surf culture, Stevenson created Makaha Skateboards (from the Makaha Surf Championships) in 1963, which produced the world’s first professional, high performance boards, sponsored the first skateboard contest, and, the sport’s first team. The boards were shaped like surfboards, further enhancing the “sidewalk surfing” tie-in to surf culture.
However, skateboard sales dropped off significantly in 1966, and except for a few diehards, the sport nearly disappeared nationally because of government bans due to safety concerns. Then, in the late 60s, Stevenson designed a skateboard with a kicktail, an upward curve at the back, that allowed easier control. The kicktail invention, patented in 1971, revolutionized the maneuverability (and safety) of skateboards and nearly single-handedly brought skateboarding back from the brink of extinction.