Born 1849 – Died December 5 1920
Patent No. 874,008
Benjamin Holt set about a way to aid farmers whose heavy equipment sank in
soft, muddy soil. Finding wheels ineffective, Holt designed a tractor with
tracks to disperse the weight, providing better traction. In 1904, Holt
produced the first practical track-type tractor known as the “Caterpillar”
and commercialized its use.
Holt made numerous innovations on his tractor. By 1908, Holt was able to
replace steam engines and introduce
gasoline-powered tractors, which offered greater efficiency in operation.
Originally developed to solve local agricultural
problems, the Caterpillar track-type tractor soon demonstrated its potential
not only in the agricultural environment, but
also in road building, earthmoving, logging, and military operations.
Used extensively by the U.S., French, and British armies in World War I, the
track-type tractor was used to haul men and
supplies across the battlefield. From 1914 to 1918, 10,000 Caterpillar
tractors were made by Holt Manufacturing Company and
other licensed manufacturers for use in the war. It was the forerunner of
the British tank, which profoundly altered ground
Holt Manufacturing merged with its competitor in 1925, forming the
Caterpillar Tractor Company, predecessor to modern-day
Born in Concord, New Hampshire, Holt ushered in the modern era of mechanized