Rollerblades vs Inline Skates
Beginners call them Rollerblades even if they own K2’s or some other brand. There lies the answer for most. Rollerblade is a brand of inline skates with historical importance. For most Rollerblade owners Rollerblades and inline skates are more than the same, they are (only) Rollerblades.
However here is the grim truth for all you Rollerblade owners. You are not Rollerblading. You are inline skating.
That should be the end of this story but let’s face it, you want to know how we got to this confusion and debate. Let’s dig in.
Turning the Rollerblade Brand Into a Generic Term
If you are Rollerblade, you want the world to call them Rollerblades. Sure enough, it stuck. It’s no different than people referring to copies as Xeroxes, or gelatin as Jell-O — adhesive tape as Scotch Tape …and the list of brands as generic terms can go on.
How Rollerblades Became Synonymous with Inline Skates
Long ago in a galaxy far far far away… No that’s not it…
Long, long ago in Germany, a subsidiary of ball bearing manufacturer SKF developed inline skates that reached the market in 1978 but were abruptly pulled because SKF allegedly didn’t want to be in the consumer market. Still, some of those skates made it out into the wild…
Soon after in 1979, two Minnesota brothers (Scott Olsen & Brennan Olsen) wanted to practice on dryland for hockey in the off-season. They found a set of the SKF skates and decided to modify them.
The Olsen brothers were the first to produce inline skates on a mass scale. The company Rollerblade was conceived.
Rollerblade had the entire market to themselves for a few years. Why would anyone think to call them anything else?
It’s for this reason many purest demand that Inline skates and the brand name Rollerblade not only be authentically used synonymously, but be truly equal in definition.
Does this mean Rollerblade won the war of how these skates are known?
Did Rollerbade Invent Inline Skates?
Let’s back up. Rollerblade did not invent inline skates. Scott and Brennen Olsen merely improved on an existing design to a point they made them a viable product. In fact, the earliest Rollerblades were not the best evolutionary version. They sold the company and the new owners made the most dramatic changes to the skate that we recognize today. Plenty of thanks still goes to Scott and Brennen to improving the design by adding a heel break, and improving ankle support with a high cuff exo-boot that would eventually be molded polyurethane.
Overall, Rollerblade has acquired no less than 116 trademarks (including the name Rollerblade) and a list of well over 100 patents. As an aside, the first land based skates were patented in 1863 by George Plimpton while the first known land based skates were thought to be produced in the 1700s in the Netherlands.
When Where Inline Skates Invented?
Inline skates have been around as long as quad skates. The quad skate won out as the most usable of the two skate types to the point of mass production in the early 1900s. Since the 1700s through the 1800s and 1900s, inventors and enthusiasts have attempted to develop an acceptable inline skate that would generate enough demand to become a public staple like the quad skate. The best known reference to the first inline skate is from the early 1700s by an unknown Dutch inventor of “Skeelers”. Their creation was similarly inspired by the desire to simulate ice-skating on dry land.
Are You Rollerblading or Inline Skating?
if You answer this question with common sense, you are in fact Inline skating. The action of inline skating should settle the question for you. You are not Rollerblading. You could argue you are blading. Many have!
In being fair we owe a lot to the brand of Rollerblade, but the action of inline skating should settle the debate once and for all. Your favorite brand may be Rollerblade. It may be Cado Modus, Bont, Seba, FR, or even a custom boot manufacturer with yet another standard frame manufacturer — you can even go as far as to skate one of many disciplines such as aggressive, dance, speed, recreational, freestyle and more. They are all inline skates, some are made by Rollerblade.