10 Innovations That Changed the Way We Exercise

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Vulcanized Rubber

The modern athletic shoe evolved from the plimsoll shoes of 19th-century England. Early shoes included Charles Goodyear's mid-19th Century invention of vulcanized rubber not only on the soles—which were quiet, allowing wearers to "sneak" around—but also at the toes, preventing the big toe from breaking through. Keds became the first mass-market athletic shoe in 1916, and various performance-enhancing design changes followed. The most famous was perhaps the Nike waffle sole, invented when University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman poured rubber onto his family's waffle iron.