The bushed roller chains go back to 1880.
"History of Renold
In 1873 at the age of 21 Hans Renold, son of a burgher family in Aarau, Switzerland, came to England and found work in Manchester with a firm of machinery exporters. His independent and inventive spirit soon found expression in the purchase, in 1879, of a small textile-chain making business in Salford. In 1880 he invented bush roller chain and an industry was born.
Thus began the enterprise of which The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was to say in a memoir: "Few realise how extensive is the influence of Renold's inventiveness on both civil and industrial life throughout the world."
The use of 1/2" pitch roller chains goes back to at least 1905 from catalogs I have seen and probably earlier. It was just a preference thing for over 50 years on single speed bikes.
1" pitch chains started out as block chains and then 1" pitch roller chains were adapted to the existing chainwheel pattern.
As late as 1963 or so, Campagnolo was making 1" pitch chainweels and a new Frejus track bike came with those chainwheels and a block chain, Regina I believe. Block chains were and are expensive. They feel very rigid and were much preferred by old trackies. My personal opinion (and I am a 9 on a retro-grouch scale of 10) is that 1/2" was a better choice from the beginning of its availability and it is remarkable that 1" pitch or block chains persisted for over 50 years.
As an aside I think that Renold made outstanding quality roller chains for bicycles. Chamfered links, slightly domed pins, small center link section, high tolerances and very hard steel. Smooth shifting and outstanding durability was the result.
Diamond of the US also made excellent chain, but up until recently I did not know that they made derailleur chain. I bought one recently out of my ongoing interest in chains. It looks a little rough but not bad. Probably as good as a Regina Extra or basic old time Sedis.
Speaking of old time chains it is nice to see Wipperman aggressively developing and marketing chains. Their old chains are extraordinary.
Great Notch, NJ
> Greetings, this answer is probably way too esoteric, but I've just
\r?\n> had my first coffee so here goes. That type of chain, also known
\r?\n> as block chain goes back to the 18th century, possibly earlier,
\r?\n> some early trucks and automobiles used a chain as part of the
\r?\n> connection from the transmission to the rear wheels. It's only
\r?\n> natural that it was used on bicycles, how else you gona do it. As
\r?\n> manufacturing and the want to have more gears evolved the half
\r?\n> inch pitch evolved, easier to go up and down a freewheel.
\r?\n> Oscar Juner always said that half inch pitch chain did not belong
\r?\n> on the track, not strong enough, although I did break one in a sprint.
\r?\n> Take care
\r?\n> Jim McCoin
\r?\n> Fremont Ca.