John Deere celebrates 100 years of tractors

Slideshow: The old and the new are contrasted at the National Farm Machinery Show.

John Deere Co. is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its official entry into the tractor business in 1918. That was the year the company purchased the Waterloo Boy, giving it a tractor to sell as part of its line of farm machinery.

John Deere has displayed the Waterloo Boy and other vintage tractors at various farm shows for the past several months. At the National Farm Machinery Show in February in Louisville, Ky., the company mounted a screen above its display of modern machinery for sale. The screen showed video footage and still shots of various moments in John Deere history. While farmers pored over the latest and greatest technology on the floor, they could look up and be reminded of the heritage of the machines they were looking at on the screen.

Heritage highlights
Here are a few highlights from the screen at the National Farm Machinery Show. Click through the slideshow to see more highlights from the NFMS display and John Deere history in general.

• Model D. One of John Deere’s most successful early tractors was the Model D, which replaced the Waterloo Boy in the 1920s. The Model D found a home on many farms, being sized to do chores common on small-size farms of that era.

• Models A and B. Tractors from the 1930s and 1940s were displayed on the screen, often doing various jobs such as plowing or cultivating crops to remove weeds. Those were the days of front-mounted cultivators that bolted to the tractor. Rear-mounted cultivators were still a couple of decades away.

• 720 and friends. John Deere celebrated when it introduced the 720, part of the 20 Series line, in the 1950s. It was a large, powerful tractor for its time, and was offered in a diesel model. The last two-cylinder John Deere would be the 30 Series, including the 730.

• 1960 and New Generation of Power. John Deere broke its tradition of being low-key and went full bore to introduce a new line of tractors that no longer used just two cylinders. Dealers from all over the country were invited to Dallas, Texas, and movie stars and television — fairly new itself in 1960 — were all used to introduce the tractor line. The new line and those that followed lived up to the billing.

• Floor show. While history ran overhead, modern equipment was on display on the floor at NFMS, including some of the newest tractor models in the John Deere lineup. The latest technology was a fitting comparison to the model of the Waterloo Boy, also showcased on the display floor.

TAGS: Technology
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