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Chris Klug

Related Biography: Engineer Charles Poppen

According to most accounts, Charles Poppen fabricated the prototype of the first commercially manufactured snowboard in 1965. His immediate goal was to make a toy for his daughter, but in 1966 he obtained a patent for his invention. It is not likely that Poppen, a chemical gases engineer living in Muskegon, Michigan, envisioned an Olympic sport as he lashed two skis together into a wider plane, similar to a surfboard.

Poppen called his invention a Snurfer and licensed it to Brunswick Corporation for mass production and sales to retail outlets. Dimitrije Milovich founded Winterstick, the first company established exclusively for the production of snowboards, in 1969. By 1970 Snurfer fans were engaging each other in annual contests.

Although Poppen's Snurfer attracted the most attention, reports of snowboard designers date back as early as 1929, to an experimental apparatus built by M. J. Jack Burchett. A Tom Sims model, on display at the Colorado Snowboard and Ski Museum in Vail Colorado, pre-dates Poppen's first attempt by two years.

The sleek, modern surfboard-like designs of third millennium snow-boards were pioneered by Jake Burton Carpenter and Chuck Barfoot individually in the late 1970s.

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