Brothers Charles and Benjamin Holt earned a small fortune selling wheels and other wagon parts in California. Benjamin reconigzed the potential of the newly invented combine harvester, and they began development in 1886. In 1891, Holt introduced the self-leveling combine for use on hillsides and took a strong position in the combine market, competing with Best. Holt followed Best into the steam tractor business. At the turn of the century, Holt took an interest in using crawler tracks to provide traction and bouyancy to steam tractors. The first tracked Holt was tested in 1904, and a commentator is reported to have said, "She crawls along like a caterpillar", providing the inspiration for the trademark. Difficult times in the tractor business in the 1920s forced a merger between Holt and Best. Spurred by corporate bankers, the two firms consolidated operations in 1925 into the Caterpillar Tractor Company.
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