In 1964, former University of Oregon runner and recent business school graduate Phil Knight started Blue Ribbon Sports with his former track-and-field coach Bill Bowerman, importing lightweight Japanese Onitsuka Tiger sneakers for the American market. By 1972, they launched a new company, Nike, to sell sneakers of their own design. Their first commercially available sneaker was the Nike Cortez, a lightweight running shoe of Bowerman’s design. The name Nike comes from the ancient Greek winged goddess of victory. Nike’s signature Swoosh was designed by Portland State University student Carolyn Davidson for $35. Knight, who at the time claimed to dislike the logo, later gave Davidson an undisclosed amount of Nike stock.
Nike / Cortez, 1972 / Nike Archives / Photo: Ron Wood