(I ripped this history off from another website until I can rewrite and update my own, but it gives you pretty much all you need to know about the history of the genre, at least as far as waves go.)

The First Wave

The first wave of Ska occurred in Jamaica in the late 1950's and continued to keep the slums and shantytowns of the economically deprived nation skanking into the late 1960's. This predecessor of both Rock-Steady and Reggae was begun when DJ's there, listening to R&B singles imported from America, successfully attempted to rewrite the music of the Supremes, the Four Tops, and other artists of the time to the complicated Jamaican offbeat. The result was slow but upbeat type of music that became known as Ska. The first wave lasted only about ten years, its popularity peaking within a period of three or four years, before it was completely replaced by Rock-Steady, a slower paced type of music, much simpler in comparison. However such legends as Jimmy Cliff, Alton Ellis and the Flames, and Desmond Decker were left in its wake.

The Second Wave

With Ska unknown in most of the world, it was one man, the self proclaimed King of Ska, Desmond Decker, who carried the torch, taking his music to England, where it found a country divided by racial tensions and a youth looking for a solution. The answer was Two-Tone- the second wave. The Two-Tone was a label started by Jerry Dammers, a middle aged man sickened by the fussing and fighting between blacks and whites, in the mid 1970's. The name Two-Tone was symbolic of a need for racial unity, thus the black and white, the checkers, and countless other Ska icons. The first band to sign on to the label were the infamous Specials, known at the time as the Special A.K.A. Later groups like the English Beat, Madness, The Bodysnatchers, The Selecter, and th e Apollinaires signed on. The Two-Tone era lasted only four short years, a divine case of too much too soon, but it laid the foundation for the political liking of Ska's third and most prolific era.

The Third Wave

In 1984, a group of young rudies from England brought the third wave of Ska to New York and America. The Toasters had experienced limited success in their home country, and were looking for a fresh start. In the 1980's Ska quite literally almost died. The cries of for racial unity and brotherhood were apparently lost, but groups like Agent 99, The Toasters, Fishbone, and The Allstonians forged on and influenced the Third Wave of Ska, making it what it is today. Ska is now more popular than ever. There actually exists underground Ska! It has branched off, straying from the pure sounds of the Skatalites to the heavier sounds of the Bosstones, and the punk like ska of the Blue Meanies. Skanking Pickle has become the foremen for the freaks of Ska, while at the same time Let's Go Bowling preserves the classic sound of the refined rudie. Groups like Sublime and Rancid have been quick to capitalize on the sudden upturn, producing a Ska track here and there, which to no surprise have received the most attention. As Ska becomes more and more popular, we can only hope that its open-minded mentality of its unique sub-counter culture is preserved, otherwise...