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InsideHoops [Basketball Sneakers]

Converse History




| Aug. 5, 2005

History Converse, chuck taylor history, chuck taylors historyThe history of Converse, including the history of Chuck Taylor the man, Chuck Taylors the sneakers and more.

1908 to Present

More than shoes, Converse is a story of legends, heroes and innovators tied together by the love of sport. It’s a script that spans nearly a hundred years – the ultimate highlight reel.

When Marquis M. Converse opened the doors of the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Malden, Mass., in 1908, he had no idea that he was really manufacturing an American icon. Throughout the 20th century, Converse delivered a consistent procession of standout sports performance footwear including the shoe that revolutionized basketball and would later would later become a favorite worldwide, the Chuck Taylor® All Star®.

The legacy of Converse – the true soul of American sports – continues to unfold, in sport and in life, in the 21st century.

The Early Years: 1908 - 1920

A young Marquis M. Converse starts the company with winterized footwear for men, women and children. Converse canvas shoes for the sport of tennis soon follow. And, during basketball’s formative years, Converse invents the All Star® basketball shoe, helping to spark a century-long American love affair with the sport.

1908 – Marquis Mills Converse opens the doors of the Converse Rubber Shoe Company

1910 – Converse produces 4,000 shoes daily

1915 – Converse canvas tennis shoe business climbs, doubling by 1918

1917 – World’s first performance basketball sneaker debuts – the Converse All Star

1918 – Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor, an All American high school player who would later suit up with the original Celtics, Buffalo Germans and Akron Firestones, puts on his first pair of All Star shoes

Roaring 1920s

The run on Converse performance tennis shoes proliferates. Meanwhile, backed by Converse, Chuck Taylor, the game’s most inspired, credible and tireless advocate, hits the road to introduce legions of Americans to the sport. Along the way, Converse makes basketball shoes for the nation’s most famous barnstorming teams who are recognized for bringing to the game an improvisational style that showcased speed, competitive play and team spirit. Before there was an “old school,” Converse, and the game’s pioneers who played in our shoes, set the benchmarks against which others aspired to reach. Converse is The First School™, the true owners of the soul of the game.

1921 – Chuck Taylor joins Converse, improves the All Star shoe’s traction and ankle support, becomes America’s first player endorser, and publishes the first of 60 years of the Converse Basketball Yearbook

1922 – Chuck Taylor teaches the first basketball clinic at North Carolina State University

1923 – THE pinnacle moment in the history of Converse: Converse adds Chuck Taylor’s signature to the All Star® patch, giving birth to what would become an American icon. Chuck Taylor, the “Ambassador of Basketball,” begins his 35-year “evangelist tour” across America to introduce and teach the game

1923 – Converse customizes shoes for the New York Renaissance, the game’s first all African American pro basketball team. Specializing in teamwork, the “Rens” leverage the fast-pivoting All Star shoes to pioneer a whole new level of play, compiling an unprecedented record of 2,588 wins and only 539 losses, and becoming one of the game’s most successful teams of all time

1930s - 1950s

The nation’s interest in basketball surges. Converse and basketball are synonymous as the Chuck Taylor® All Star® becomes standard issue on pro, collegiate and high school courts nationwide. Concurrently, Converse’s record-breaking war manufacturing effort earns it the United States’ “E for Excellence” distinction. Hollywood helps the wildly popular Chuck Taylor All Star (a.k.a. “Chucks”, “Cons”, “Connies”) transcend the sport to become deeply entrenched in popular American culture, like jeans and soda.

1935 – World famous champion badminton player Jack Purcell designs an innovative and durable performance court shoe, with its telltale toe Smile™, that changed the game and soon became a staple of early Hollywood and boarding school “bad boys”

1935 – Chuck Taylor invents the modern-day basketball – the first “stitchless” leather basketball to improve the sport through a more true bounce

1936 – Basketball is played for the first time as an official Olympic sport. The U.S team, which wore Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, defeats Canada 19-8 on a clay court for the gold medal

1936 – The pioneering fan favorite All American Redheads, an all-women exhibition team with the flair of some of New York’s most famous barnstorming teams, play their first game in Converse

1939 – The first NCAA championship basketball tournament is held with both teams playing in Converse All Star shoes

1942 – Fully committed to support the war effort, Converse shifts its sports production and designs the innovative A6 Flying Boot, which the entire U.S. Army Air Corps wears

1946 – Holcombe Rucker launches the famed Rucker Professional Summer Basketball Tourney in Harlem. Converse All Star shoes are there at the beginning of this pinnacle competition that today pits the best “street” players against the pros

1949 – The Basketball Association of America and the National League merge to become the NBA. Virtually all pro players are wearing Chuck Taylor All Star shoes at the time

1955-56 – 100,000,000 spectators flock to high school, college and pro basketball games, at which time Chucks are the #1 basketball shoe in America

1957 – At seven years old, a young basketball player named Julius Erving pleads with his mom to buy him his first pair of Chuck Taylor® All Star® shoes for $3.95. Wearing Converse en route to basketball history, Julius, better known as “Dr. J,” creates a whole new style of above-the-rim play, ushering in today’s modern game

1960s - 1970s

Converse ushers in a parade of new athletic performance footwear, apparel and accessories for basketball, tennis, football, track, wrestling and other sports. Elite athletes line up to lace up in Converse. Hollywood’s love affair with Converse continues to bloom. The line between the worlds of sports and fashion blur. Converse responds, adds color, plus leather performance shoes to its arsenal.

1962 – The most points ever scored in a single NBA game by one player, 100 points to be precise, is recorded. The record, established in Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, has never been broken

1962 – Converse develops the low cut version of its All Star, called an “oxford,” which soon became the shoe of choice for pro players and started a new and relaxed west coast lifestyle statement that quickly spread eastward

1966 – Converse adds seven new colors to the Chuck Taylor All Star line to coordinate with team uniforms

1968 – Chuck Taylor, for his lifelong devotion to advancing the sport, earns a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

1972 – In the most controversial game in international basketball history, the U.S. loses its first ever Olympic contest that ended a 63-game Olympic winning streak and a string of seven consecutive Olympic gold medals – Converse remains the shoe of choice

1974 – Converse debuts the “One Star,” a low-cut performance shoe for basketball, which is later adopted by surfers and skaters as a retro, alternative lifestyle look

1974 – In every major college and junior college tournament this year, eight out of ten players wear Converse All Star shoes

1976 – Julius Erving endorses Converse, putting his stamp on the company’s revolutionary Pro Leather, which would become known as “The Dr. J”

1980s - 1990s

Converse invests in athletic biomechanics research, leading to technical advances and a new breed of performance footwear. The roster of legendary male and female athletes – from court and field – who endorse and perform in Converse, continues to grow. Meanwhile, Chuck Taylor All Star shoes continue to be a mainstay in American culture.

1981 – Converse develops one of the industry’s first biomechanics labs

1982 – NCAA championship team is won in White/Carolina Pro Leathers, earning the shoe the nickname, the “Buzzer Beater”

1983 – Dr. J, wearing Converse— his footwear of choice throughout his entire career—leads his team to the win the NBA Championship

1984 – Converse is the Official Sponsor of the 1984 Olympic Games. The U.S. men’s basketball team wins gold while wearing Converse. By this time, Converse shoes had appeared in final medal rounds at every Olympic competition since 1936

1985 – Converse’s biomechanics lab delivers the industry’s first high-tech midsole cushioning systems, energy return technology and motion control devices

1986 – Converse unveils The Weapon™ with its instant hit, “Choose Your Weapons” ad campaign featuring two of pro basketball’s best squaring off in Converse

1991 – NBA’s Rookie of the Year stars as “Grandma-Ma” – a Converse-invented character that quickly gains pop-culture status

1992 – Converse introduces state-of-the-art REACT® custom-fit technology, increasing basketball shoe cushioning, stability and support

1996 – For the first time since the 1970s, the Chuck Taylor® All Star® patch appears on a performance leather basketball shoe – the All-Star 2000, whose DNA is drawn directly from the original All Star, immediately resonates selling more 1,000,000 pairs


Converse enters the new millennium inspired by the innovative drive of its founding fathers and redoubles its commitment to remember, learn from and build upon its proven past, with a keen eye on developing performance footwear for the future.

2002 – By this time, more than 750 million pairs of Chuck Taylor All Star shoes have been sold in 144 countries since its 1923 debut

2002 – Converse signs player-endorsers Rodney Rogers, who earned NBA’s Sixth Man award 1999-2000, Ron Mercer, who was named to the 1997-1998 NBA All Star Rookie Team, Andre Miller, who became one of the youngest assist leaders in the game, and Jeryl Sasser, whose versatility, tireless defense and amazing rebounding earned him a spot in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft

2003 – The company unveils Converse Re-Issue™, a collection of performance footwear drawn from the innovative manufacturer’s 20th century archive, presented in their original form and resurrected with new color and added comfort

Converse history and the history of Chuck Taylor by Converse.

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