A Timeline of Outsoles

by Focus
1 year ago

Humble Beginnings

As time evolves so does technology. What is innovative now might be outdated in a week. This is the blessing and curse of our fast paced time, in which the knowledge of the world is at our fingertips, 5 seconds of typing away from us.


Science has paved it’s way in almost every area of life, from how we cut a tree to creating the finest cushioning for runners and athletes feet.

In “A Timeline of Outsoles” we’ll take a look at how science and innovation influenced the world of sneakers. The term sneaker is often attributed to Nelson Henry McKinney, who created the neologism because the shoes, made with a rubber instead of leather sole, made way less noise.

Nelson was an advertising manager for N.W. Ayer & Son when he came up with the term in 1917, probably not knowing that he just coined the term that is still used today, over 100 years later.


Rubber was only the beginning but a big step forward and we’ve come a long way since so we’ve included the most iconic sneakers only.



Chuck Taylors

Charles Taylors company Converse created the probably most iconic sneaker of all time. It is still worn and loved today and made it’s way into the peoples heart through basketball. Even Michael Jordan wore Converse basketball shoes at one point in his life, he even won the Olympic Gold medal in them. It was no surprise that they raked in over 190.000$ when they got auctioned.


One of the oldest preserved Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers,


Puma Soccer Cleats

Everybody in the western hemisphere knows Adidas, what might be news to some is that when Adi Dassler and his brother Rudolf split up due to different views on the company’s future, his brother went on to create Puma. Nowadays both companies are majorly successful and create billions in revenue yearly.

Puma was one of the first companies to introduce shoes specifically tailored to soccer player’s needs.


Side view of the Puma Super Atom


Air Max

Tinker Hatfield created the first Nike Air Max in about 1985-87 and they went into production in 87. This was the first shoe with a visible outsole but not the first one featuring Nike’s Air Tech.

This new type of cushioning changed the sneaker industry for the better. Together with the urge of people living amongst the rules of capitalism to create products that outperform their competitors sales wise, innovation drove the whole industry to think about new ways to create better, lighter and better looking sneakers.



Old Air Max 1 model on which the outsole turned yellow/brown through oxidation. Front part of the outsole has a crack.


Asics Gel Trainers

Funny that Nike, formerly Blue Ribbon Sports, first sold sneakers for japan based brand Asics just to outperform them later sales wise. Nike’s new invention forced other companies in the industry to think out of the box and come-up with their own. Asics introduced their gel cushioned trainers in 1993 under the name Kayano TN310.


Blue and white Asics Gel Kanayo Trainer TN310, photographed from an angle that let's you see the side and upper


Adidas Boost

The most up-to-date form of cushioning came out of Germany in 2012. Today it’s implemented in most of the companies new, hyped releases. Through fusing pebbles instead of creating one solid layer the cushioning method provides the best energy return and precise reaction, at least that’s what the company claims and proves.


Side view of the Energy Boost in black, volt yellow



Check out our other articles on technologies used in sneakers to get in-depth information about how they came about and how they’re implemented.


As always stay tuned for more and make sure to ask questions if you have any!

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