Dunlop 'Maxply' tennis racquet, 1950s
In 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield registered his patent in London for the equipment and rules of an outdoor lawn tennis that is generally considered the first version of what we play today. Racquets saw only minor changes between 1874 and the end of the wooden racquet era more than 100 years later. Wooden racquets did get better during these 100 years, with improvements in laminating technology (using thin layers of wood glued together) and in strings, but they remained heavy (13-14 ounces), with small heads (around 65 square inches). Compared to the contemporary racquet, even the best wood racquets were cumbersome and lacking in power. The ‘Maxply’ with its cat gut strings was seen as the elite of the old wooden racquets. Racquets today are lighter, bigger and made from graphite with nylon strings.