Caterpillar founder inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is posthumously inducting Benjamin Holt, one of the founding fathers of Caterpillar. The Hall of Fame is recognizing Holt for ushering in the modern era of mechanized farming and construction with his “traction engine.”

Holt’s invention was inspired by the plight of California farmers who found wheels ineffective in preventing heavy equipment from sinking into muddy soil. Holt designed a track-laying system to disperse weight and provide better traction, producing in 1904 the prototype of the track-type tractor. A photographer who documented one of its first successful tests dubbed the machine the “caterpillar.”

In 1925, Holt Manufacturing merged with competitor C.L. Best Tractor, forming Caterpillar Tractor, predecessor to modern-day Caterpillar.

“Holt invented the tracks, but he also set the standard for innovation and quality that all of team Caterpillar aspires to in 2006 and beyond,” said Robert Williams, vice president of Caterpillar.