Ten Ways Caterpillar Changed the World

Legacy of Innovation

Caterpillar was founded by two families of innovators from the agriculture industry: the Bests and Holts. After joining forces to form Caterpillar, they were first to market with diesel-powered track-type tractors, essentially inventing the industry we know today. Caterpillar employees have followed in their footsteps, turning their passion for product development into innovations that create customer value and make the world a better place.


1.Benjamin Holt tested his steam-powered track-type tractor prototype for the first time in 1904. His goal? Make it easier to plant crops in boggy California soil where both horses and other kinds of tractors often got stuck.


2. In 1931, Caterpillar released the industry's first true motor grader - the Auto Patrol.


3. The D9900, Cat’s® first diesel engine, went into production in 1931 and earned notoriety for being the world’s first mass-produced diesel engine.


4. In 1955, Caterpillar introduced a special modification called “low ground pressure” (LGP) undercarriage, allowing our machines to work in extreme weather conditions on Antarctica. It’s still available on our machines today.


5. One of Caterpillar’s hallmark engineering innovations—the elevated sprocket—was designed in 1977. It allows machines to work harder and last longer while providing a much smoother operator ride. Today, it’s standard on medium and large Cat track-type tractors.


6. Track-type tractors can spend up to 50 percent of their work time turning. The Cat Differential Steering System, designed in the 1980s, allows machines to turn “on a dime,” increasing productivity so customers can get more done in less time.


7. The Cat D7E with electric drive technology, introduced in 2009, gets more work done with less fuel. Since its introduction, we estimate customers have saved more than 12.2 million liters (3.2 million gallons) of diesel fuel with the D7E compared to our previous model.


8. Cat engines with ACERT™ Technology, unveiled in 2001, dramatically reduced harmful pollutants and waste emissions while maintaining engine performance, efficiency and durability.


9. Caterpillar’s 2014 Tier 4 final solution delivered a 90 percent emissions reduction over a 20-year period.


10. Unveiled in 2012, the Cat 336E H was the first machine to use a novel hydraulic hybrid technology developed internally by Caterpillar.