A Brief History of Bulldozers

Bulldozers: One of the most classic and useful machines out there, but where did they come from?

It is believed that we have James Cummings and J.Earl Mcleod to thank for the invention of bulldozers in 1923. The inventors, who created the machine in Kansas, originally created a large blade that was able to be attached to the front of a tractor. This simple but clever attachment was patented as ‘Attachment for Tractors’ in 1925.

In the past, bulldozers were used all over the world and pulled by horses on farms to shift dirt. Originally, the blade attachment was very restricted in it’s movements as it could not be raised, lowered, or tilted. The attachment device was further developed so allow for more movement, but required the operator to get out and adjust the device manually.


Tracked machinery become more common with the invention of the Caterpillar Sixty by Benjamin Holt and the Holt Manufacturing Company (Soon to be renamed the Holt Caterpillar Company in 1910). The Caterpillar Sixty was a 60 horsepower crawler tractor and the largest tractor made by Caterpillar during its manufacture from 1925-1931. See the Caterpillar Sixty in all it’s glory in the video below.

The Caterpillar Sixty – A 60 horsepower crawler tractor.

The plant’s popularity continued to grow during the 1920s, but was not fully accepted before the mid-1930s.

The aptly named ‘bulldozer’ earned its title after hydraulic cylinders were added to provide power down-force instead of relying entirely on the weight of the blade. Before this addition, the term only referred to the attachment device.

Originally, the interesting name for this plant meant to apply a lot of medicine or punishment. It evolved to be defined as ‘to get your way using force or intimation’, similar to it’s common usage today and making more sense for this machine. The name now refers to a tractor fitted with a dozer blade.

When larger earthworks become more common, the need for bulldozers increased and thus they became more sophisticated. This lead to the machine becoming the highly useful plant that it is today.

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