You are here:

FREE Newsletter

Inventors Footware and Shoes
By Mary Bellis

Sandals were the most common footwear in most early civilizations, however, a few early cultures had shoes. In Mesopotamia, (c. 1600–1200 BC) a type of soft shoes were worn by the mountain people who lived on the border of Iran. The soft shoe was made of wraparound leather, similiar to a moccasin. "As late as 1850 most shoes were made on absolutely straight lasts, there being no difference between the right and the left shoe."

General History of Shoes
  • Solemates: The Century in Shoes You can do some soul searching decade by decade using this site.
  • History of Men's Footwear and Hosiery In America, Massachusetts quickly established itself as the shoemaking center of the Colonies.
Shoe Making Machinery
  • Shoe Manufacturing Machine Jan Ernst Matzeliger developed an automatic method for lasting shoes and made the mass production of affordable shoes possible.
  • Lyman Reed Blake Lyman Reed Blake was an American inventor who invented a sewing machine for sewing the soles of shoes to the uppers. In 1858, he received a patent for his special sewing machine.
  • Goodyear Welt - Patented on January 24, 1871, was Charles Goodyear Jr's Goodyear Welt, a machine for sewing boots and shoes.

  • Shoelaces
    An aglet is the small plastic or fiber tube that binds the end of a shoelace (or similar cord) to prevent fraying and to allow the lace to be passed through an eyelet or other opening. This comes from the Latin word for "needle." The shoestring (string and shoe holes) was first invented in England in 1790 (first recorded date March 27). Before shoestrings, shoes were commonly fastened with buckles.

    Rubber Heel
    The firt rubber heel for shoes was patented on January 24, 1899 by Irish-American Humphrey O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan patented the rubber heel which outlasted the leather heel then in use. Elijah McCoy invented an improvement to the rubber heel.

    First Rubber Soled Shoes/Sneakers
    The first rubber soled shoes called plimsolls were developed and manufactured in the United States in the late 1800s. In 1892, nine small rubber manufacturing companies consolidated to form the U.S. Rubber Company. Among them was the Goodyear Metallic Rubber Shoe Company, organized in the 1840s in Naugatuck, Connecticut. This company was the first licensee of a new manufacturing process called vulcanization, discovered and patented by Charles Goodyear. Vulcanization uses heat to meld rubber to cloth or other rubber components for a sturdier, more permanent bond.

    On January 24, 1899, Humphrey O'Sullivan received the first patent for a rubber heel for shoes.

    From 1892 to 1913, the rubber footwear divisions of U.S. Rubber were manufacturing their products under 30 different brand names. The company consolidated these brands under one name.When choosing a name, the initial favorite was Peds, from the Latin meaning foot, but someone else held that trademark. By 1916, the two final alternatives were Veds or Keds, with the stronger sounding Keds being the final choice.

    Keds®  were first mass-marketed as canvas-top "sneakers" in 1917. These were the first sneakers. The word "sneaker" was coined by Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent for N. W. Ayer & Son, because the rubber sole made the shoe stealthy or quiet, all other shoes, with the exception of moccasins, made noise when you walked. In 1979, the Stride Rite Corporation acquired the Keds® brand.

  • Sneaker Sanctuary Charlie's Sneaker Page includes the history of sneakers along with facts, descriptions, pictures, a glossary, and advice on how to dry wet sneakers.
  • Sneakers : Modern Athletic Shoes - Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman The elevation of athletic shoe manufacture to both a science and a fashion statement was largely due to Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman of Oregon.
  • They're Not Just Gym Shoes Audio review of the book and talks about the modern use of sneakers.
  • Ronald Demon The inventor of the "Smart Shoe" -  an athletic shoe whose cushion support automatically adjusts to suit the shape of the wearer's feet.

  • Sport Sandals
    The term "sport sandals" was first coined by Ken Young. Young's sandal patent (with nylon webbing) was issued on April 2, 1974 -  U.S. Patent # 3,800,444.

    Teva ® Sandals: Mark Thatcher
    Mark Thatcher invented Teva ® Sandals.

    Flip Flops
    The history of flip flops.

    Herbert Lapidus of Westchester, New York, invented the odor-eater insole in the early 1970s. Lapidus claims he invented the product because his wife had very smelly feet. Odor-eaters are latex inner soles for shoes that contain activated charcoal to neutralize odors.

    Related Innovations
    Clothing Innovations

    ©Mary Bellis

    Subscribe to the Newsletter

    From Mary Bellis,
    Your Guide to Inventors.
    FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!

    Important disclaimer information about this About site.

    Newsletters & RSSEmail to a friendAdd to
    All Topics | Email Article | |
    Our Story | Be a Guide | Advertising Info | News & Events | Work at About | Site Map | Reprints | Help
    User Agreement | Ethics Policy | Patent Info. | Privacy Policy | Kids' Privacy Policy

    ©2006 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.
    Mental Health

    Depression Self-Test Vitamins for Depression? Bipolar Red Flags Coping With Disasters Celebrities With Bipolar

    What's Hot

    Gyroscopes - Elmer Sperry and Charles Stark Draper Gyroscope...Angel AlcalaThe History of the BikiniRusi Taleyarkhan Jack Johnson