Alan Gelfand was a kid who lived in Hollywood, Florida. He liked to ride a skateboard. At the age of 15, in 1979, he turned the skateboarding world on its ear.
At the time, most skating was done in big concrete parks, with bowls and halfpipes. In order to get air out of a bowl, you had to hold onto your board with your hands and hop, pulling the board up with you as you got a little air off the lip of the bowl. At the time, the world record for air was about two to three feet.
On one fateful day in the summer, Stacy Peralta, skateboarding mogul, was doing a demo with his team at the same skatepark that Gelfand was at. Peralta was doing all of his standard tricks, and watched all of his teammates do similar ones, but he noticed that the crowd wasn't around them, but around a bowl off in the corner. Intrigued, he ambled over and asked what was going on.
What was going on was that Alan Gelfand was doing no-handed airs. Peralta asked him to do a few more. Gelfand did a few more and Peralta was mesmerized. The board just stuck to his feet when he jumped, or so it seemed. Eventually, they figured out that he was using a combination of pushes with his feet to get the board in the air and keep it there.
Gelfand was soon signed to a contract for Powell-Peralta's Bones Brigade. His move, the ollie, was so named for his childhood nickname. A few years later, he burned out and stopped skating. He is still rumored to skate a little today. The ollie, though, is one of the foundations of skateboarding, on all terrain, and is still a wonderful thing to see.
By the way, before the ollie, world record for height off of vert was two to three feet, right? Now, it's 16 and a half.