Inlines Were Not His Only InventionMerlin was a musician, a mechanical genius and an inventor who opened “Merlin’s Mechanical Museum” when he moved to London in 1760 at age 25. His museum, located in Hanover Square, was entertaining and became a popular place to visit as well as a showroom for his mechanical and musical inventions. Guests could play with a gambling machine, see perpetual motion clocks and mobile bird cages, listen to music boxes and even try the wheeled chair for a few shillings.
In that same year, he created the first roller known skates, which consisted of a small row of metal inline wheels. It is believed that Merlin wore his skates as part of the publicity stunts he often used to promote his inventions and the museum. Stopping and maneuvering were a problem that Merlin couldn’t resolve with skating skill or inventions, so he exhibited and demonstrated his roller skates but did not patent them. For the next century other skate designs would continue to follow this inline wheel alignment.
Some of Merlin’s Other Inventions:
- Manueverable sedan-type wheelchair for people with gout
- Dutch oven
- Perpetual motion machine that ran on atmospheric pressure changes
- Weighing machines
- Harpsicord with pianoforte action
- Barrel organ
- Compund harpsichord
Historic information courtesy of
The National Museum of Roller Skating
4730 South Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68506