Marion "Frank" Rudy had the vision of filling air in chambers and placing these chambers under the foot. So they should imitate the movement of the lungs with every step. Inhale. Exhale. Bloat. Contract. This function should make walking easier and prevent injuries at the same time. In 1977 he visited Phil Knight with a prototype and let the Nike co-founder run on his air sole for 15 minutes. The Nike headquarters was a huge incubator for groundbreaking shoe technologies in the 1970s. Rudy's idea also aroused the CEO's joy in experimenting.
A team of experts from designers, athletes, scientists and NASA space engineers developed the first prototype. The Air unit would be combined with conventional foam that was launched on the feet of selected runners in the Honolulu Marathon in 1978. The shoes almost fell apart at the finish line, but the runners agreed: they had never experienced such a feeling - light, bouncy and the energy in the legs was retained for longer. The Nike Air technology was ready for its release: In 1979 the Nike Air Tailwind appeared with the first integrated Air mid sole.
During the production of the mid sole, two polyurethane foils are pressed into the sole form in a thermoforming machine, which are then filled with nitrogen (i.e. not with air). The airtight cushions absorb the impact energy and enable the revolutionary, soft, responsive running feeling already described by the marathon runners.