Our History of Sustainable Innovation

Since our earliest days, Caterpillar has provided products and services that benefit our customers, continually improving the quality of the environment and communities where we live and work while helping build a better, more sustainable world. 

1906

In 1906, Benjamin Holt tested his first gasoline-powered track-type tractor that eventually replaced inefficient, steam-powered track-type tractors. His invention was named “Caterpillar,” and it was the first step on a never-ending journey toward more efficient power sources for our machines.

Benjamin Holt testing his gasoline powered prototype track-type tractor.
Benjamin Holt testing his gasoline powered prototype track-type tractor.

1910

You can say remanufacturing is part of our DNA. The Holt Manufacturing Company, one of our two predecessor companies, rebuilt and resold machines as early as 1910. One of these machines is still owned by the original customer’s family today.

Rebuilt Holt 45 track-type tractor that was originally owned by a customer in Argentina.
Rebuilt Holt 45 track-type tractor that was originally owned by a customer in Argentina.

1930

In the 1930s, Caterpillar track-type tractors were converted to run on alternative fuels such as butane and propane. This Caterpillar Seventy track-type tractor was equipped to burn butane in Hanford, California. In this same decade, Caterpillar converted gasoline engines to burn natural gas, and sold diesel engine conversion kits that allowed existing customers to “modernize” their gasoline-powered Sixty tractors. 

Caterpillar Seventy track-type tractor equipped to burn butane, building an irrigation ditch in Hanford, California.
Caterpillar Seventy track-type tractor equipped to burn butane, building an irrigation ditch in Hanford, California.

1955

In 1955, the D9 became the first Cat® machine fitted with a turbocharged diesel engine. Turbocharging technology captures and reuses exhaust gases to increase power while reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Cat D9 tractor at work during the construction of I74 in Central Illinois.
Cat D9 tractor at work during the construction of I74 in Central Illinois.

1973

What began as a customer request for a low-cost repair option transformed into one of Caterpillar’s most dynamic divisions— Cat Reman. In 1973, the first Caterpillar remanufacturing plant began production in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Caterpillar remanufacturing assembly line in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Caterpillar remanufacturing assembly line in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Before being donated to the Smithsonian Institution, Caterpillar’s first diesel engine prototype, “Old Betsy,” was restored and put through a rigorous series of emissions tests in 1973. Thanks to a forward-thinking design, Old Betsy came very close to meeting 1973 emissions standards 40 years after it was built.

Caterpillar’s first diesel engine prototype, “Old Betsy,”
Caterpillar’s first diesel engine prototype, “Old Betsy,”

1994

From 1994 to 1995, Caterpillar ran the first two prototype 777C autonomous mining trucks (AMTs) at a Texas limestone quarry, where they successfully hauled more than 5,000 production loads over a 2.6-mile course, and demonstrated autonomous operations could improve safety.

The first two prototype Cat 777C autonomous mining trucks at a Texas limestone quarry.
The first two prototype Cat 777C autonomous mining trucks at a Texas limestone quarry.

2019

In 2019, Caterpillar introduced the D6 XE, the world’s first elevated sprocket electric drive dozer, providing substantial fuel savings and efficiency alongside increased productivity.

Cat D6 XE, the world’s first elevated sprocket electric drive dozer.
Cat D6 XE, the world’s first elevated sprocket electric drive dozer.