The first skid-steer was developed for agricultural work.
The first skid-steer was developed for agricultural work.

The skid-steer loader started out as a three-wheeled machine made by Melroe Manufacturing Co. It featured two drive wheels and a rear caster wheel, with lift arms and a simple utility fork attachment up front. This quick, agile loader replaced a pitchfork and a strong back to save hours of hard labor on farms and in areas too small for conventional machines.

That was soon followed by development of the four-wheel-drive skid-steer loader—similar to the thousands seen on jobsites across the country. Dubbed the “Bobcat,” the concept proved so popular that the company ultimately changed its name to the Bobcat Co. Within a short time, equipment manufacturers were making dozens of versions of the skid-steer loader. The machine can also be credited with creating the compact equipment market that includes an exhaustive range of categories, including compact excavators and mini backhoes.

The skid-steer loader also led to a demand for attachments. Standard attachments now include augers, box blades, brooms, breakers, drop hammers, and buckets. The evolution of this versatile machine has been toward ever increasing sophistication.

—Ryan Johnson

Read more highlights from 50 Years of Concrete Construction Progress.