But the sport has a decidedly aristocratic English heritage. Developed as a table version of, well, tennis, it gained popularity amongst the upper crust in the 1880's as an after-dinner leisure. It was so popular that three different names were patented for game set sales - Gossima, Whiff-Whaff, and Ping Pong by the turn of the century.
But the first step toward real competition and organization came on this date in 1901, with The Table Tennis Association forming in England. This is also the year that the celluloid ball was first used, as well as the game first being introduced into China through western settlements there. And, a competing 'Ping Pong Association' was formed. 'The Table Tennis Association' survived a merger with PPA, name changes, and waning popularity to resettle in the early 1920's as the English Table Tennis Association, leading to the International Table Tennis Federation launching in 1926 along with the first world championships, appropriately in London.
Today, the game counts as many as 30 million players, and is relatively played the same way as back in 1901, save some advancements in paddles. And, it's been played in the Olympics since 1988. (What took them so long??) What would those early game developers think today?