Ping Pong History
An interesting part of ping pong history is that the game was used as a diplomatic gesture between the United States and China in 1971. At a world championship event in Japan, the Chinese team invited the American team to visit the People's Republic to play, all expenses paid. They were the first group of Americans allowed inside mainland China since the communist takeover in 1949.
Ping pong history begins, however, in Victorian-era London. In the 1880's, the game became popular with the upper class as an after dinner activity. The impetus behind it was to create a miniature version of tennis that could be played indoors. Various objects were used, like a line of books for the net, cigar box lids for the rackets and champagne corks for the ball.
People called the game many names, including flim-flam and whif-whaf. These referred to the sounds the ball makes when hit back and forth. The name ping pong was trademarked in 1901 by manufacturer J. Jaques & Sons. Other manufacturers called it table tennis. The ping pong name was later sold to Parker Brothers and has become the generic name for the game.
Celluloid balls began to be used in ping pong at the turn of the 20th century after English enthusiast James Gibb discovered their effectiveness while visiting the United States. Ping pong history saw the birth of the modern racket in 1903 when E.C. Goode attached pimpled rubber sheets to wooden blades. In the 1940s, S.W. Hancock Ltd. placed a sponge under layer on rackets. This created greater speed and spin, which were again increased with the introduction of the foam rubber racket in 1952.
The International Table Tennis Foundation was founded in 1926 and the first official world championship in ping pong history was held in 1927 in London. By the 1960's, Japan and then China started dominating the sport over the Europeans. This reign began to end when the Olympics added ping pong in 1988. At the end of 2000, rules making the regulation ball larger and making the point system 11 instead of 21 were added in an effort to slow ping pong down to make it easier to follow for those watching on television.