In The Beginning
It’s almost a certainty that the first wave riders were riding prone: either body surfing or riding on a piece of wood. Some experts believe a form of body boarding likely took place at least several thousand years ago. The first written accounts of bellyboarding took place in 1769 , in Tahiti. Less than a decade later the same form of surfing was observed in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).
Belly and knee boards changed very little for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. But like their longer cousins they began an evolutionary change starting around the early 1930s when water proof glues had improved enough to off the use of multiple woods to be laminated together to build boards.
The next hallmark moment occurred following World War 2 and the development of early foams and fiberglass. By the late to early 1960s a surfing boom was moving across the US and very soon the world.