IT ALL BEGAN WITH A VERY DRAMATIC ENTRANCE
The first recorded roller skate inventor, John Joseph Merlin, originally of Belgium, decided to debut his metal-wheeled roller skates at a fancy masquerade party in London in 1760. Merlin’s plan was to suavely skate into the salon while simultaneously playing a violin. Unfortunately, Merlin hadn’t practiced skating much prior to the soiree, nor were his skates engineered for turning. Merlin ended up crashing into a large mirror and suffering serious physical injuries, though his pride might have been the part of him most severely bruised.
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.