During the 2020 pandemic, roller-skating made a big comeback, as people looked for safe ways to have fun during quarantine. This pastime may seem like a quintessentially 20th-century phenomenon, but wheeled shoes first rolled out as early as the 1700s. As models changed and improved over the years, skating fads bloomed in Europe and the United States throughout the 19th century.
The precursor to roller-skating— ice-skating—is vastly older and can be dated as far back as 1800 B.C. Archaeologists found evidence that people in Scandinavia fashioned ice skates from animal bones, pioneering the oldest human powered means of transport. (What does 'skating on thin ice' sound like?)
One of the first recorded attempts to put wheels on shoes took place in the 1700s. An unnamed Dutchman strapped to his shoes strips of wood with wooden spools on the bottom, known as “skeelers.” They quickly broke.