In 1963, Larry Stevenson started Makaha skateboard company to mass-produce his surfboard shaped skateboard design. The unique shape offered a better ride on the concrete wave. Makaha was one of the first skateboard companies that adopted clay wheels over metal wheels, providing a smoother ride and more maneuverability. That year, he also made the first professional skateboard, naming it after legendary surfer Phil Edwards. The same year, Makaha sponsored the first skateboard contest, with about 100 competitors in Hermosa Beach. Makaha was the first to sponsor a skateboard exhibition team.
In 1969 Larry invented the kicktail, a sloping incline at the end of the skateboard that gives the skateboarder more control and allows them to launch the board off the ground with their feet. Without the kicktail, the ollie and all other aerial tricks that define modern day skateboarding would be impossible. Larry is also accredited with inventing the double kicktail which most modern skateboards are modeled after.
Mr. Stevenson died on Sunday in an assisted-living facility in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 81. The cause was pneumonia, resulting from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Mr. Stevenson is survived by his son who now heads the Makaha company, which is known for its retro line of skateboards.