In 1912, John Deere faced a huge challenge. While the company was highly successful producing implements and resided as the number one manufacturer of plows in the world, it lacked a tractor to complete its product lineup.
The pressure from dealers to include a tractor to that equipment line was considerable. The demand for horsepower in the marketplace was strong, and all of Deere’s major competitors offered tractors.
The need for a tractor, dealers felt, was essential for Deere to hold on to its plow business. This was due to the fact that a tractor and plow were typically sold together in those days.
Succumbing to this pressure, the Deere board of directors agreed in March 1912 to develop a tractor.
In the next couple of years, Deere engineer C.H. Melvin toiled to develop a three-wheeled tractor plow. This failed to gain traction.
In stepped Joseph Dain, a board member who had sold his company, Dain Manufacturing, to Deere in 1910. A member of the board of directors and an innovative tinkerer, Dain convinced the board in 1914 that he had a concept for a tractor that would put the company at the forefront of tractor design.
THE GO-AHEAD WAS GIVEN
During the next four years, Dain and his engineering team worked on a three-wheeled design based on state-of-the-art engineering. Dain’s effort bore fruit, and on November 19, 1917, Deere’s board voted to “manufacture 100 tractors of the Dain type” for sale.
The “Dain type” would be later labeled the All-Wheel-Drive. With its manufacture, Deere entered the tractor market.
The Waterloo Boy finally gave John Deere a toe in the market. It was soon replaced by the vaunted model D.
The new generation of Deeres was led by the 3010 and 4010.
DESIGN FIRSTS AMONG DEERES
- First John Deere tractor with a diesel engine and factory cab: the model R Diesel (introduced 1949).
- First John Deere tractor with an adjustable rear-wheel tread and one-piece transmission case (which provided for high under-axle clearance): the model A (1934). Both innovations were also industry firsts.
- First with a three-point hitch: the model 40 (1953).
- First four-wheel-drive tractors: the models 8010 and 8020 (1960).
- First models with closed-center hydraulics (that greatly enhanced hydraulic performance): the models 3010 and 4010 (1961).
- First garden tractor: the model 110 (1963).
- First tractor with a factory-installed turbocharger: model 4520 (1969).
- First series to offer a powershift transmission: optional on the models 4050, 4250, 4450, 4650, and standard equipment on the model 4850 (1982).
- First tractor offering front-wheel drive as standard equipment: the model 3150 (1985).
- First tractors equipped with rubber tracks: the 8000 series (1997).
- First use of an automatically shifting transmission: the 8000 Ten series of tractors (2000).
- First tractor with front axle suspension: the 6020 and 8000 series (2002).
- First model series to offer a continuously variable transmission: the 7020 series (2003).