Adapted from Tim Boggan's Chapters of Table Tennis History
Table Tennis is thought to have begun in England. The game, and to begin with it was only a game and not a sport, was born in the 1880's when adherents of lawn tennis adapted their pastime to be played indoors during the winter months. The early equipment consisted of rubber or cork balls, and bats made of dried animal skins stretched over a wooden frame.
The game's popularity rose steadily, sometimes dramatically; by 1901 table tennis tournaments were being organized, associations had been formed, and books on the game had been published. An unofficial "World Championship" was held in 1902. The "parlor game" of table tennis was rapidly assuming the status of a serious sport.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was formed in Berlin in 1926 and international laws were adopted. The first official World Championships were held in London the same year. Seven countries participated. By this time balls were made of celluloid and bats consisted of sheets of pimpled rubber glued to wooden blades. Developments over later decades included "sandwich" rubber (pimpled rubber attached to a layer of sponge), rubbers specially treated to impart extra spin or to absorb spin, and "speed" glues which were absorbed into the sponge to make the rubber springier and add speed to the ball.
The participation in the World Championships increased from seven countries in 1926 to 101 in 1997. 140 countries are now affiliated to the ITTF. Table Tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988.
For a more information on the history of table tennis, please refer to the article written by table tennis historian Tim Boggan at www.usatt.org.
Today's game of table tennis is a high intensity and physically challenging sport, that requires lightning fast reflexes and incredible agility. The equipment is made through state of the art technology, creating high-friction surfaces and larger sweet spots on the wood. Speed glues are frequently used to expand the sponge, thus creating more tension and a more resilient.