Tractors are one of the most widely-used engineering vehicles for performing agricultural tasks. But have you ever wondered that who invented the tractor and how it has been evolved until today? Read on to have a deeper understanding of the vast history of this amazing machine in the article below.
Who invented the tractor?
In 1892, the first successful tractor was invented by John Froelich (1849 -1933) in the tiny village in Northeast Iowa. The word “tractor” was not used in those days, it only came into common use until later. At that time, it was the first successful gasoline engine that could be driven backwards and forwards.
Prior to the widespread use of tractors, farmers relied on steam-powered engines to thresh wheat. However, there are some problems associated with those engines; they were heavy and bulky, making them difficult to maneuver and expensive to use. Moreover, it always posed a threat to set fire to the stubble and grain in the fields.
Every fall, Froelich took a crew of men to Langford, South Dakota to work on the fields, so he was very familiar with such equipment and their issues. That is the reason why he was determined to invent a better way to power the engines.
The solution was finally found – gasoline. He and his blacksmith Will Mann worked side-by-side to mount a one-cylinder gasoline engine mounted on the running gear of a steam traction engine.
After a few weeks of testing, Froelich and his crew started for the broad fields of South Dakota with the “tractor” and a new threshing machine. That fall, his crew threshed 72,000 bushels of small grain, making the new equipment successful results.
A big improvement on the tractor now compared to the old days is the tractor seat. With the most comfortable tractor seat right now, the farmer can be a lot more productive for long periods of time.
Evolution of tractors
Tractors made a dramatic change in farming. Take a journey through the history of tractors and their incredible milestones to see how the evolution of this farm tool has changed:
1831: Cyrus Hall McCormick invented the first commercially successful reaper, a horse-drawn machine to harvest wheat. This tool laid the foundation for later power farming.
1837: Tractor pioneer John Deere introduced his polished steel plow blade made from an old saw. Deere’s newly popular saws allowed him to begin his mass-producing business instead of making them on-demand.
1849: A. M. Archambault & Company made the first farm steam engine. Later, manufacturers developed the traction engine, a machine with powered wheels and steering capabilities. The steam traction engine was used in driving the threshing machine.
1876: The Otto internal combustion engine was patented by the German engineer named Nicholas Otto. When his patents expired in 1890, companies worldwide jumped into the Otto-type engine business.
1892: John Froelich produced the first gas gasoline tractor engine to the farming industry.
1895: The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company was incorporated by a group of businessmen and made Froelich the president. The interest of Froelich remained in tractors instead of stationary engines and soon chose to withdraw from the company.
1905: On San Francisco, a Holt steam traction engine worked on the construction of the cable car system.
1907: Henry Ford and chief engineer Joseph Galamb introduced the first gasoline-powered tractor model named automobile plow.
1908: Holt Caterpillar track-type tractors became famous after their use in the Los Angeles Aqueduct Project.
1910: Gas-powered tractor models were widespread in farming moving forward.
1913: Bull Tractor Company of Minneapolis introduced the first tractor for small farmers. The tractor had a single “bull” wheel, a two-cylinder 12 horsepower engine, and a cone clutch in lieu of a transmission gearbox.
1914: The first Waterloo Boy Tractor, also called the Model R single-speed tractor was manufactured by The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company. Their sales slowly reached to 118 tractors within a year.
1918: Deere Company bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, manufacturers of the Waterloo Boy Tractor. Deere continued to sell tractors under the Waterloo Boy name until 1923.
1923: The Farmall tractor, an inexpensive, lightweight, all-purpose, row-crop tractor advertised to “farm all” was introduced by International Harvester. The machine revolutionized power farming in the U.S.
1925: Caterpillar Inc. joined the tractor business.
1934: John Deere and Caterpillar Inc. were able to survive the Great Depression by focusing on product development. Model A and Model B tractors of Deere Company remained the most popular Deere models in company history, manufactured until 1952.
1940: Small family farms started dying out and large farms sprang up like mushroom. Gone was the day when farmers used only one tractor, the average large farm required several tractors to maximize production.
1959: John Deere successfully reached over 1.25 million two-cylinder tractors and started manufacturing four- and six-cylinder engine tractors.
1960: Four Wheel Drive was introduced to tractors. Caterpillar expanded the production to Brazil, which continues to the present day.
1963: The John Deere 4020 hit the market, making it the best-selling tractor of all time. Farmall could no longer remain the top-selling row-crop tractors.
1980: The U.S. experienced major agricultural depression. Nevertheless, Deere Company managed to stay on top since other major competitors merged or went out of business.
1994: John Deere produced revolutionary row-crop tractors in order to improve the farming trade. Farmers started to manage crops and tractor use with GPS applications to regulate water, fertilizer, pesticide use, and monitor crop conditions.
2000: John Deere company tractor name and numbering systems were updated to display engine horsepower in each model number such as John Deere 6115D.
2014: Industry experts endorsed the concept of driverless tractors in the near future.
If you were wondering about who invented the tractor, then you probably have got the answer. Tractors have been recognized as one of the most important applications of the internal combustion engine. Through the tractor evolution, we can see how far farming technology has advanced since tractor power began to replace draft animals and steam-powered machinery over a century ago.