Parker Brothers Ping-Pong game
The sport originated in Victorian England, where it was played among the upper-class as an after-dinner parlour game. It has been suggested that makeshift versions of the game were developed by British military officers in India in around 1860s or 1870s, who brought it back with them. A row of books stood up along the center of the table as a net, two more books served as rackets and were used to continuously hit a golf-ball.
The name "ping-pong" was in wide use before British manufacturer J. Jaques & Son Ltd trademarked it in 1901. The name "ping-pong" then came to describe the game played using the rather expensive Jaques's equipment, with other manufacturers calling it table tennis. A similar situation arose in the United States, where Jaques sold the rights to the "ping-pong" name to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers then enforced its trademark for the term in the 1920s making the various associations change their names to "table tennis" instead of the more common, but trademarked, term.
The next major innovation was by James W. Gibb, a British enthusiast of table tennis, who discovered novelty celluloid balls on a trip to the US in 1901 and found them to be ideal for the game. This was followed by E.C. Goode who, in 1901, invented the modern version of the racket by fixing a sheet of pimpled, or stippled, rubber to the wooden blade. Table tennis was growing in popularity by 1901 to the extent that tournaments were being organized, books being written on the subject, and an unofficial world championship was held in 1902.
In 1921, the Table Tennis Association was founded, and in 1926 renamed the English Table Tennis Association. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) followed in 1926. London hosted the first official World Championships in 1926. In 1933, the United States Table Tennis Association, now called USA Table Tennis, was formed.
In the 1930s, Edgar Snow commented in Red Star Over China that the Communist forces in the Chinese Civil War had a "passion for the English game of table tennis" which he found "bizarre". On the other hand, the popularity of the sport waned in 1930s Soviet Union, partly because of the promotion of team and military sports, and partly because of a theory that the game had adverse health effects.
In the 1950s, paddles that used a rubber sheet combined with an underlying sponge layer changed the game dramatically, introducing greater spin and speed. These were introduced to Britain by sports goods manufacturer S.W. Hancock Ltd. The use of speed glue increased the spin and speed even further, resulting in changes to the equipment to "slow the game down". Table tennis was introduced as an Olympic sport at the Olympics in 1988.
Assortment of 40 mm table tennis balls
After the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the ITTF instituted several rule changes that were aimed at making table tennis more viable as a televised spectator sport. First, the older 38 mm (1.50 in) balls were officially replaced by 40 mm (1.57 in) balls in October 2000. This increased the ball's air resistance and effectively slowed down the game. By that time, players had begun increasing the thickness of the fast sponge layer on their paddles, which made the game excessively fast and difficult to watch on television. A few months later, the ITTF changed from a 21-point to an 11-point scoring system (and the serve rotation was reduced from five points to two), effective in September 2001. This was intended to make games more fast-paced and exciting. The ITTF also changed the rules on service to prevent a player from hiding the ball during service, in order to increase the average length of rallies and to reduce the server's advantage, effective in 2002.
For the opponent to have time to realize a serve is taking place, the ball must be tossed a minimum of 16 cm in the air. The ITTF states that all events after July 2014 are played with a new poly material ball.