Russian Ice slides, which first appeared in the 1700's, created the roots of roller coasters. These slides were everywhere in Russia and created a major amusement attraction for Russians. The slides were simply steep hills of ice that occasionally had bumps near the bottom. A rider would ride in a sled of ice or wood (usually ice). Straw usually created a seat and a rope across to hold onto was as far as safety went in these times. Skilled riders would even offer their services to aid new riders in getting down the slide safely.
These slides became quite popular in Russia but a French businessman wanted to create a slide in France. This ended up being a washout (pun intended) since the French climate would not accommodate. Innovation sent this man to create a waxed wooden hill with a wooden sled fixed with wheels. This created an all-weather version that began to spread rapidly.
Creators next wanted to create tracks to aid in safety and success of the attractions. Some rides even had multiple sleds go at once and end in a helix of sorts. This led to wagering on who would actually finish first (or finish at all in some cases).
Finally in 1850 the inversion was bred from these infantile roller coaster roots and roller coaster creation took leaps and bounds. The French created the Centrifuge Railway, a looping version of the slides. After just one accident the government put this ride to rest. It was too late. The Russian ice sleds already lit the fire that became the Godfather of all modern day scream machines.