The idea of mechanical cushioning was first explored by Bruce Kilgore, the designer of the Air Force 1, way back in 1984. However, it took over 10 years for Nike Shox to come to fruition.
Back in the mid-’80s, biomechanical experiments with the goal of optimizing energy return became the focus of several Nike designers and engineers. According to Nike, they added steel springs to a running shoe’s midsole to see if it would improve running economy, and a year later they tried a multi-layer leaf-spring heel unit.
Throughout the 1980s, Nike continued experimenting with different hinges and mechanical columns, until finally, in 1997, the solution of twin plates with foam columns became Nike Shox.
The sneakers hit the retail market in big numbers by 2000 and ushered in several different builds that used the foam columns. You may remember the Nike ads from the time, which featured Gary Payton, Vince Carter, and that classic boing.
After the Shox line fanned out to include builds for basketball, running, and tennis, the shoes were everywhere. In Europe the line is still pursued by collectors, and you can see people rocking Shox nearly every day in the New York subway.