When Tinker Hatfield created the Nike Air Max 1 in 1987, it would trigger nearly three decades' worth of running innovation. From Hatfield's follow-up design with the coveted Air Max 90 to the Air Max 97 and its full-length Max Air unit, the innovation behind visible Air never lost its stride and still continues today with the Air Max 2015.

But while Hatfield has deservingly become synonymous with the Air Max line, there was actually another Nike designer who helped play a major role in making visible Air possible.

In the late '70s, the Tailwind silhouette debuted Nike's Air technology, but was enclosed within the sneaker's midsole and hidden from plain view. When Nike’s Director of Cushioning Innovation David Forland joined the team in 1985, he wanted to change that.

Forland experimented with the technology and built the first prototype after realizing a simple adjustment to the air bag's seams would make it possible to provide an unobstructed look at the cushioning system.

"At that exact moment the light bulb turned on," Forland says. "I built a new prototype right there on the spot." And from there, visible Nike Air technology was incorporated on the Air Max 1 and every other runner in the line since.

With Air Max Day coming up in just two weeks, Nike shares a visual guide to every Nike Air runner in its line and the evolution of each style over the years.


[via Nike]