In 1957, Cyril and Louis Keller built a small three-wheeled loader in their Rothsay, Minn., machine shop for a local farmer who wanted to mechanize his barn-cleaning chores. The little loader worked so well that the Melroe Co., down the road in Gwinner, N.D., bought the patent from the Keller brothers, who were hired to further develop the concept. By 1960, a four-wheeled version of the original idea—the M-400 "skid-steer loader"—was ready for sale, and in 1962 it was branded a "Bobcat."
In recognition of the Keller brothers' accomplishment, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) recently presented its Historic Landmark award to these two gentlemen—and to the Bobcat Co., now a business unit of Ingersoll Rand. Presentation of the ASAE award, incidentally, coincided with Bobcat's announcement that it has now produced 600,000 skid-steer loaders.