Ping pong was invented in England back in the 1800’s as an amusement for after dinner for the Victorians in the upper-class, The origins of ping pong were lowly, with common everyday objects being used for it’s play. Very often books were set up across the table to act as a net, cigar box lids were used for paddles, and the ball was either a ball of string or a rounded cork from a wine bottle.
Once the popularity of the sport grew, manufacturers decided that they would capitalize on the idea. The first official ping pong bats that were made were made of stretched pieces of parchment on a frame, and that is how the game received one of it’s names. The name ping pong comes from the sound that the ball made when it hit the ping pong bats.
The next big breakthrough in ping pong came in 1901 when James Gibb, who was very fond of ping pong, found balls made of celluloid when he visited the United States. He discovered that the balls were perfect for ping pong. It wasn’t until two years later that the ping pong bat got an update when EC Goode attached a piece of rubber to a wooden blade.
The popularity of ping pong started growing in leaps and bounds, and in 1901 ping pong tournaments started, books on ping pong were written, and the first unofficial ping pong world championship was held in 1902. In the early 20th century, Russian rulers banned ping pong due to a mistaken belief that the game damaged the eyesight of the players.
The Table Tennis Association was founded in 1922 in England, and four years later the International Table Tennis Associated followed. A year later the first official table tennis world championship was held in London. Ping pong wasn’t introduced as an Olympic sport. until 1988.
Since the invention of ping pong there have been plenty more discoveries that have improved the game. In the 1950s foam padding was added to the table tennis bats, giving the players a greater speed and spin on the balls. Balls were increased from 38 mm to 40 mm, which slowed down the game by increasing the air resistance of the ball.
There is also a large ball variety of table tennis, which uses a 44mm ping pong ball. This is favored by players who prefer the more leisurely game of table tennis over the fast paced speed and spin action that the sport now has.
You can learn more about table tennis history from this link.