Thrasher was founded in 1981 by Fausto Vitello and Eric Swenson, primarily as a way to promote Independent Truck Company, their skateboard truck company. The magazine's first editor was Kevin Thatcher. Mofo became the second staff member, joining Thatcher in mid-1981.
In 1993, Jake Phelps was named editor of the magazine. With him, he brought the punk-skater ethic to the world through his photojournalism, changing the essence of Thrasher, and in turn changing the sub-culture of skateboarding forever. In 1999, the magazine sponsored a PlayStation game called Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy. Vitello's son, Tony, took over as owner of the magazine after his father died of a heart attack in 2006, and Swenson committed suicide in 2011. On March 14, 2019, long-time editor Jake Phelps passed away.
Photographer Michael Burnett is the magazine's current editor-in-chief.