Nike has revolutionized the athletic footwear industry in countless ways over the decades, but perhaps the one Swoosh technology that stands out above all the rest in terms of its lasting imprint in the sneaker world is Nike Air cushioning.
As the story goes, in 1977, aerospace technology specialist Frank Rudy came to Nike with an ingenious idea: to put an air pocket inside the sole of a shoe as a form of more sufficient cushioning. Nike took that idea and ran with it–literally.
Within a year, Nike introduced the first shoe ever to feature its proprietary Air technology in the appropriately named Air Tailwind running shoe. Following just a short stint in Nike’s R&D facilities, the Air Tailwind was released in limited quantities in Hawaii ahead of the 1978 Honolulu Marathon. It didn’t take long for the game-changing shoe to sell out and create an undying buzz in the running world. Thus a legend was born.
Though weary of the idea at first, runners were eager to put the innovative cushioning platform to the test. They got their chance the following year in 1979, when Nike announced a full-fledged distribution effort for the Air Tailwind.
Since the original Air Tailwind made its debut in the late ‘70s, Nike has expanded the iconic series with the addition of newer models that don’t necessarily share much with the OG version in terms of design, but are still anchored with the same Air cushioning concept that put the Air Tailwind on the map.