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If you were born after World War 2, it is very likely that you wore a pair of Converse shoes in your youth and teenage years. For decades, this shoe was basically the only brand of athletic footwear available. Converse had cornered this niche of shoes and dominated it for nearly 40 years until other competitors stepped into the arena. When the company was founded in 1908, it wasn't selling athletic shoes at first. However, in 1915, they began to manufacture tennis shoes with limited success. In 1917, the company first brought their basketball shoes to the marketplace. Two years later, Converse made what is widely considered the most significant decision in its storied history, by signing Chuck Taylor to endorse their shoes. This was the first player endorsed contract ever offered, and it was wildly successful for the company. Taylor helped promote the shoes and as the interest in basketball grew over the next several decades, sales started to skyrocket in the 20s and 30s. In the 30's, most professional and amateur basketball players were wearing Converse shoes, including Olympic athletes. Things really started to take off for the company after World War 2. In fact, what many people don't know is that during the war, American soldiers wore converse shoes and the company received various honors from both the Army and Navy. After the war, Converse became extremely popular as more and more celebrities started to wear their shoes. This made the shoes highly desirable among teenagers and the shoes soon became an icon and a true piece of Americana. Thanks to these events, the most popular boy shoes of this era were easily Converse without question. The company was able to monopolize the athletic shoe market well into the 1970s, until they faced a barrage of competitors that included Nike and Adidas. As the 1980s rolled along, the company had trouble adapting to the technologies of the other companies. With Nike, Adidas, and Reebok releasing so many new models of shoes, Converse simply couldn't keep up. Sadly in 2001, Converse filed for bankruptcy and was subsequently bought out by Nike in 2003. Converse shoes have made a comeback of sorts, but will never dominate the market like they once did. However, their impact on American society can not be overlooked and the company will always be a big part of American culture and an icon in the shoe business.
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