After their use in Ancient Greece for raising the height of important characters in the Greek theatre and their similar use by high-born prostitutes or courtesans in Venice in the 16th Century, platform shoes are thought to have been worn in Europe in the 18th century to avoid the muck of urban streets.
During the Qing dynasty, aristocrat Manchu women wore a form of platform shoe similar to 16th century Venetian chopine.
Platform shoes enjoyed some popularity in the United States, Europe and the UK in the 1930s, 1940s, and very early 1950s, but not nearly to the extent of their popularity in the 1970s and 1980s.
When the biggest, and most prolonged, platform shoe fad in U.S. history began at least as early as 1970 (appearing in both advertisements and articles in 1970 issues of Seventeen magazine), and continued through the late-1980s though not in Europe or the UK where they had all but died out by 1979.
At the beginning of the fad, they were worn primarily by young women in their teens and twenties, and occasionally by younger girls, older women, and (particularly during the disco era) by young men, and although they did provide added height without nearly the discomfort of spike heels, they seem to have been worn primarily for the sake of attracting attention.
Many glam rock musicians wore platform shoes as part of their act.