How has basketball changed since it was invented?

The rules of basketball have undergone significant development since its invention in 1891.

Timeline of the evolution of the rules of basketball

1895: The free throw line was officially placed 15 feet (4.6 m) from the basket. Before this, many gyms had the line 20 feet (6.1 m) from the basket.

1896: A field goal or basket was changed from counting as three points to two points. Free throws were changed from three points to one point.

1897: Backboards were installed in most arenas.

1901: A dribbler could not shoot the ball and could dribble it only one time, using both hands.

1909: The dribbler was permitted to shoot. In addition, the dribble was defined as the "continuous passage of the ball," which made the double-dribble illegal.

1911: Players were now disqualified after committing their fourth personal foul. No coaching at all was allowed during the game, even during timeouts.

1914: The bottom of the net was cut open so the ball could fall through.

1915: The college, YMCA, and AAU rules became the same for the first time.

1921: A player was allowed to re-enter the game once. Before that, once a player left he could not return. The backboards were moved 2 feet (610 mm) in from the wall of the court. Before that they were right on the wall and players could climb the padded wall to sink baskets.

1922: Running, or "traveling," with the ball was changed from a foul to a violation. In other words, instead of the other team getting a free throw, the team in violation simply lost the ball.

1924: The player who was fouled had to shoot his own free throws. Prior to that, there was usually one player who shot all his team's free throws.

1929: The charging foul by a dribbler was called for the first time.

1931: The "held ball" could be called when a closely guarded player withheld the ball from play for five seconds. The result was a jump ball. The ball was made smaller, with the maximum circumference reduced from 32 to 31 inches (813 to 787 mm).

1933: The ten-second center or midcourt line was introduced to cut down on stalling. That meant the team with the ball had to advance it over the center line within ten seconds of taking possession.

1934: A player could now leave and re-enter the game twice.

1935: The ball was made smaller once again. The maximum circumference was reduced to between 29 1/2 and 30 1/4 inches (749 and 768 mm).

1936: The three-second rule was introduced. No offensive player could remain in the free throw lane, with or without the ball, for more than three seconds.

1938: The center jump after every basket scored was eliminated. That led to more continuous play.

1940: The backboards were moved from 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 m) from the end line to permit more movement under the basket.

1945: Defensive goaltending was banned. Big men could no longer swat the ball away once it started downward toward the basket. Five personal fouls now disqualified a player. An extra foul was not permitted in overtime games. Unlimited substitution of players was introduced.

1949: Coaches were allowed to speak to players during a timeout.

1954: The NBA adopts the shot clock. A team must attempt a shot within 24 seconds or lose possession. The shot clock is reset when the ball contacts the rim or backboard, or when the defensive team gains control of the ball.

1957: The free throw lane was increased from 6 feet to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.7 m) wide.

1958: Offensive goaltending was banned. In other words, an offensive player could not tip a team-mate's shot into the basket while the ball was directly above the rim of the basket.

1979: The NBA adopted the three-point field goal.

1981: College basketball adopts the possession arrow rule to settle jump ball situations during the game.

1985-1986: The NCAA adopted the 45-second shot clock.

1993-1994: The NCAA shot clock time was reduced from 45 to 35 seconds.

2001-2002: The NBA reduced the number of seconds for a team to advance the ball past half-court from 10 to 8. The "Illegal defense" rule was also eliminated, meaning NBA teams could run the zone defense (note that zone defense was and is allowed in all other forms of the game).