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1979: Tailwind
1979: Tailwind
Frank Rudy, a former NASA engineer, came up with the idea that athletes could run on "air" - specifically, gas-filled bags that cushion impact. He brought the idea to Adidas and other shoe manufacturers, but it was Nike that seized the opportunity and rolled out the first running shoe with Air technology. The initial launch didn't exactly take flight - according to the New York Times, half of the shoes were returned because of design flaws - but the technology became synonymous with Nike.

NEXT: 1982: Nike Air Force 1
Last updated March 17 2009: 10:25 AM ET
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