The evolution of roller skates is similar to that of the bicycle. Just as penny farthings gave way to safety bicycles after 1886, inline skates became obsolete with the invention of the quad skate in 1863.
Bear in mind that up to the nineteenth century independent riding was confined to horseback and only the bicycle and the roller skate provided the novelty of personal wheeled propulsion.
Ice skates were popular but only seasonally or at rinks. There was therefore great potential if someone could invent a wheeled skate to simulate the moves of ice skates. Various methods of attaching wheels to ice skates were tried out, noticeably in the early seventeenth century. The invention of practical wheeled skates is credited to the Belgian Joseph Merlin in the 1760s.
The year 1819 was a turning point for both bicycles and roller skates. Patents were awarded to Johnson for the hobby horse and Petibled for a three-wheeled inline roller skate.
A new style of skate with two axles was patented in 1863. Again mirroring the bicycle’s evolution – the Safety Bicycle replacing the Ordinary and popularising the hobby as a result – this new skate was much safer than inlines. Skating took off. And the four-wheeled quad skate became the dominant style.