Bobcat was recently recognized with an agricultural engineering Historic Landmark award for the invention of the skid-steer loader.
Representatives from the American Society of Agricultural Engineers presented the award to Bobcat and members of the Cyril and Louis Keller family at a ceremony on June 8.
The first prototype of today’s skid steer was developed in 1957 when Cyril and Louis Keller of Rothsay, Minn., designed and built a three-wheeled front-end loader at the request of a turkey farmer. The patent was sold to Melroe Manufacturing Company, which is today known as Bobcat, in 1958 and the Kellers were hired to continue working on their loader invention.
In 1958, the company introduced the M-200 Melroe self-propelled loader. It featured two independent front-drive wheels and a rear caster wheel, a 12.9-horsepower engine and a 750-pound lift capacity. The caster wheel was replaced in 1960 with a rear axle, and was reintroduced as the M-400, the world’s first four-wheel skid-steer loader. Another model, the M-440 was later produced with a 15.5-horsepower engine and an 1,100-pound rated operating capacity. The Bobcat name was added in 1962.
The acceptance of the ASAE award coincides with the production of Bobcat’s 600,000th skid-steer loader. Since the first few models, skid-steer changes have included the development of a hydrostatic drive system, rollover protective cab structures and radial and vertical path lift-arm configurations.
“Continued innovation has enabled Bobcat to retain its leadership in the skid-steer loader industry and expand into many related types of compact equipment,” said Mike Ryan, Bobcat president.
Bobcat currently manufactures 10 models of skid steers as well as track loaders, excavators, attachments, utility vehicles, utility work machines, loader backhoes and telescopic tool carriers.