Rock Shox was founded by Paul Turner, who in 1987 along with Keith Bontrager designed and exhibited a dual suspension bike at a trade show in Long Beach. The design was spurned by the industry as overbuilt and unnecessary for the fledgling sport of mountain biking.
By 1989 Paul and his wife Christi were manufacturing in his garage, and selling the black and pink RS-1 suspension forks, with a little over 30mm of travel. Rock Shox as a company was born.
The acceptance of suspension as a valid design was a paradigm shift in the sport and the racing community rapidly embraced the technology which allowed them to go faster over rougher ground. By 1990 the World Downhill champs were all being won by front suspended and primitive dual suspension bikes.
Turners next innovation was in the Mag 10 fork which ran about 50mm of air-sprung travel but used cast magnesium lower legs to reduce weight. This design stuck for a couple of years culminating in the beautifully manufactured Mag 21-SL Ti which was finished with Titanium hardware and an aluminum steerer, and another first the Paris-Roubaix road bike fork with 30mm of travel, and suspension lockout designed for the brutal cobblestones of that famous race.
The Paris-Roubaix fork exists in mostly the same form today as the Ruby
The next hop up for Rock Shox was the coil and elastomer sprung Judy which used cartridge damping modules to control the spring action and knocked them back into the competition with the other main fork manufacturers, Manitou and Marzocchi who had innovated beyond Rock Shox's Mag range. The Judy range included the very spunky Judy DH which with its bright red legs and 75mm of travel was a status symbol amongst the riding community. Despite initial problems with leaky cartridges the range has persisted through to the present, but now resides as Rock Shox's low end range of forks.
Although no longer the Micro$oft of the mountain bike suspension industry. Rock Shox continues to innovate and compete with the big hitters, its products assisting many riders to win their races. The company was bought in 2002 by SRAM Corporation (Shimano's competitors) but continues as a separate entity from their owners.