History Of Ping Pong
Ping pong has had several names throughout history, such as “whif whaf,” “flim flam,” “gossamer,” and finally table tennis, but whatever it has been known as, the history of ping pong remains the same. Though the rules have changed slightly through the years to speed up the game, the basics are still what they were originally.
During the late 1800s in England some upper-middle class Victorians got the idea to clear off the dining room table and turn it into a mini version of lawn tennis. They were very creative and used books to separate the table, got some cigar box lids for what later became the paddle, and used either a champagne cork, rubber ball, or ball of string to hit back and forth.
The various names given to ping pong were derived from the sound the ball made when it was hit across the table. In 1901, J. Jacques and Son Ltd. from England decided to register and copyright the name “Ping Pong,” which was the most popular name for the game at the time. Eventually the name was sold to Parker Brothers in the United States. When the sport was revived in Europe it was called table tennis.
At the turn of the century the game was refined with new balls and paddles. In 1901 James Gibb from England discovered celluloid balls when he made at trip to America. In 1903, E.C. Goode replaced the cigar box lids and players started using light wooden blades with pimpled rubber for the paddles. Finally, in 1936 at the world championships, it was decided to lower the net to make the game go faster. More rules took effect in 2001 to make the game more entertaining and faster paced.
Right around the turn of the century the sport spread all over Europe and America, China, Korea, and Japan learned about the sport after seeing British Army officers playing. The International Table Tennis Foundation (ITTF) was founded in Berlin, Germany in 1926 by England, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Wales, Austria, and Hungary. The first official world championship was held in 1927 in London.
Presently the sport is dominated by China and Korea, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1950s and early 1960s Hungary, France and Sweden dominated the sport. After a Japanese player named Horoi Satoh introduced the foam rubber paddle in 1952, which caused the ball to spin and the game to go faster, Japan got into the competition. By the early 1960s Japan took over the world championships, and by the mid '60s China dominated the field until the early 1980s. Domination changed somewhat after table tennis was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1988 with Korea and Sweden participating.
The first group of Americans were invited to play in China in 1971 where no Americans had been allowed to enter since 1949. This began improved relationships between China and America. President Nixon visited shortly after that.