1830 — About 250-300 labor hours required to produce 100 bushels of wheat using a walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle and flail.
1837 — Using steel from a broken saw blade, Illinois blacksmith John Deere invented a plow capable of tilling the Midwestern soil, which clogs up cast-iron plows. Sales of the innovation led to the founding of the John Deere Company.
1849 — A.M. Archambault & Company developed the first farm steam engine. The steam engine was later expanded into the steam traction engine with powered wheels and steering capabilities; the steam traction engine was used to drive a threshing machine.
1890 — About 40-50 labor hours needed to produce 100 bushels of wheat using a horse-drawn gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher and horse-drawn wagons. That same year, John Froelich introduced the first gas-powered tractor to the farming industry.
1897 — Charles W. Hart and Charles H. Parr form the Hart-Parr Gasoline Engine Co. of Madison, Wis. The pair are credited with coining the word “tractor,” short for “gas traction engine.”
1907 — Henry Ford completes his first experimental tractor. The Henry Ford & Son Corp. (shortened to “Fordson”) is established in 1917 to make and sell tractors.
1910 to 1915 — Large, open-geared gas tractors come into use in areas with extensive farming acreage.
1913 — The Bull Tractor Company introduced the first tractor manufactured for small farmers. Standard features included a single “bull” wheel, a two-cylinder 12 horsepower engine, and a cone clutch instead of a transmission gearbox.
1919 — Walla Walla Tractor and Power Farming Demonstration held April 23-25 at the Yenney Ranch.
1920s — The “all purpose” rubber-tired tractor with associated machinery comes into wide use.
1923 — The Farmall tractor, a light-duty, all-purpose, row-crop tractor advertised to “farm all,” was produced by International Harvester. According to The Big Book of Farmall Tractors, the Farmall revolutionized power farming in the U.S.
1925 — Caterpillar Inc. was formed after the CL Best Tractor Company and Holt Manufacturing Company merged.
1934 — John Deere was able to survive the Great Depression by focusing on product development; Model A and Model B tractors remained the most popular Deere models in company history, produced until 1952. Caterpillar Inc. also experienced growth through the Great Depression.
1940 — The number of large farms in America grew, replacing smaller family farms. Farms could no longer operate with just one tractor; the average large farm required several tractors for production.
1959 — John Deere successfully produced over 1.25 million two-cylinder tractors; from that point forward, John Deere manufactured four- and six-cylinder engine tractors.
1963 — The best-selling John Deere tractor of all time, the John Deere 4020, hit the market. Farmalls remained the top selling row-crop tractors until 1963.
1994 — John Deere improved the farming trade by manufacturing revolutionary row-crop tractors, never before seen by the agricultural industry. In the same year, farmers began to manage crops and tractor use with GPS receivers to regulate water, fertilizer, and pesticide use.
2014 — Industry experts endorse transition to driverless tractors in the near future and major manufacturers support developments in autonomous machinery.