Caterpillar – What's In A Name?

3/3/2016 9:50:06 AM by Christie Collins

Let's go back to when it all started. If you don't know by now how the Caterpillar name came about, don't feel too bad, it was a pretty simple revelation actually. The crawlers used in the early 1900's in the U.S. reminded Benjamin Holt, of The Holt Manufacturing Company, of how a caterpillar insect moved across the terrain. This inspired Mr. Holt to patent the Caterpillar name in 1910.

The crawler was first used in Europe in the mid 1800's due to the extremely soft soil. The dirt was too soft for tires, which caused problems with traction. As farm equipment got heavier it became difficult for horses to pull. The new style and technology of the tracks traveled to the U.S. through various inventions that were noted, but never quite took off, due mostly to lack of funding.

The Holt family held their farm equipment business in California and the early versions of crawler type tractors were powered by steam. Holt found a way to change over the steam engine to use gasoline in 1908. In 1925, Holt merged with one of their biggest competitors, Best Tractor Company, but not before years of lawsuits filed against each other for patent and name rights. The newly merged company changed its name to The Caterpillar Tractor Company. Once the new company was forged they moved their headquarters from California to Peoria, Illinois where it continues to exist today. In 1931, the trademark hi-way yellow with black trim were incorporated. Before that the equipment had been gray with red trim. In 1986 the name of the company was shorted to Caterpillar, Inc with the current CAT logo.