The inventor of the modern shoelace is supposedly Harvey Kennedy, who is often referenced as having come up with the invention in 1790.
Early civilisations used sandals as footwear, although shoes were worn in Mesopotamia as long ago as 1600BC. From there footwear moved to moccasins and shoes with buckles or buttons. An American company developed plimsolls (sandshoes) in the late 1800s. From 1917 they were marketed as "sneakers" because they were silent , enabling one to sneak around.
Lacing in connection with footwear dates back thousands of years. Laces were used to keep many types of sandals on the feet of Greeks and Romans, as depicted in pictures from the time. Native Americans used leather thongs and laces to secure animal hide moccasins and winter leggings to their feet and legs.
What Harvey Kennedy did was to:
• thread a lace through an eyehole, instead of threading it against an external fastener;
• place a binder on the end of the lace to prevent it fraying (known as an aglet);
• then take out a patent on the whole deal.