Founding of the company:
The roots of International Harvester run to the 1830s, when Cyrus Hall McCormick, an inventor from Virginia, finalized his version of a horse-drawn reaper, which he field-demonstrated throughout 1831, and for which he received a patent in 1834. Together with his brother Leander J. McCormick (1819-1900), McCormick moved to Chicago in 1847 and started the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. The McCormick reaper sold well, partially as a result of savvy and innovative business practices. their products came onto the market just as the development of railroads offered wide distribution to distant market areas. He developed marketing and sales techniques, developing a vast network of trained salesmen able to demonstrate operation of the machines in he field.
McCormick died in 1885, with his company passing to his son, Cyrus McCormick, Jr., whose antipathy and incompetence toward organized labor sparked the Haymarket affair, the origin of May Day as a labor holiday. In 1902, the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company, along with three smaller agricultural equipment firms (Milwaukee Harvesting Machine Co., Plano Manufacturing Co., and Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner-manufactures of Champion brand) merged to create the International Harvester Company.
Banker J.P. Morgan provided the financing. In 1919, the Parlin and Orendorff factory in Canton, Illinoi, was leader in the plow manufacturing industry. International Harvester purchased the factory, calling it the Canton Works; it continued production for many decades.
The golden years of IH
In 1926, IH's Farmall Works began production in a new plant in Rock Island, Illinois, built solely to produce the new Farmall tractor. By 1930, the 100,000th Farmall was produced. IH next set their sights on introducing a true 'general-purpose' tractor designed to satisfy the needs of the average US family farmer. The resulting 'letter' series of Raymond Loewy-designed Farmall tractors in 1939 proved a huge success, and IH enjoyed a sales lead in tractors and related equipment that continued through much of the 1940s and 1950s, despite stiff competition from Ford, John Deere, and other tractor manufacturers.
IH ranked 33rd among United States corporations in the value of World War II production contracts.
In 1974, the five-millionth IHC tractor was produced at the Rock Island Farmall plant in Illinois.
Throughout the 1960 and 190s, despite good sales, IH's profit margins remained slim. The continual addition of unrelated business lines created a somewhat unwieldy corporate organization, and the company found it difficult to focus on a primary business, be it agricultural equipment, construction equipment, or truck production. An overly conservative ;management, combined with a rigid policy of in-house promotions, tended to stifle new management strategies, as well as technical innovation. Products with increasingly ancient technology continued in production despite their marginal addition to sales. Worse, IH not only faced a threat of strong competition in each of its main businesses, but also had to contend with increased production costs, primarily due to labor and government-imposed environmental and safety regulations.
The International Harvester Agricultural Division was second to the Truck Division, but was the best-known IH subsidiary. When IH sold the agricultural products division to Tenneco in 1985, the International Harvester name and "IH" logo, went with it.
From 1902, when IH was formed, to the early 1920s, the McCormick and Deering dealerships kept their original brands unique, with Mogul tractors sold at McCormick dealers, and Titan tractors at Deering dealerships, due to the still-present competitiveness of the former rivals.
IH produced a range of large gasoline-powered farm tractors under the Mogul and Titan brands. Sold by McCormick dealers, the Type C Mogul was little more than a stationary engine on a tractor chassis, fitted with friction drive (one speed forward, one reverse) Between 1911 and 1914, 862 Moguls were built. These tractors had varied success, but the trend going into the mid-1910s was "small" and "cheap".
The first important tractors from IH were the model 10-20 and 15-30. Introduced in 1915, the tractors were primarily used as traction engines to pull plows and for belt work on threshing machines.. The 10-20 and 15-30 both had separate, but similar, Mogul and Titan versions.
In 1924 IH, introduced the Farmall tractor, a smaller general-purpose tractor, to fend off competition from the Ford Motor Company's Fordson tractors. The Farmall was a leader in emerging row-crop tractor category.
Following the introduction of the Farmall, IH introduced several similar-looking "F Series" models that offered improvements over the original design. In 1932, IH produced their first diesel engine, in the McCormick-Deering TD-40 crawler. This engine started on gasoline, then switched over to diesel fuel. Diesel engines of this era were difficult to start in cold weather, and using gasoline allowed the engine to start easily and thoroughly warm up before making the switch to diesel in all weather conditions. In 1935, his engine was put in the International Harvester WD-40, becoming the first diesel tractor on wheels in North America.
In 1947, the smallest tractor in the Farmall line was introduced, the Cub.. The Cub was aimed at small farms such as truck farms, horse farms, and other small acreages that had previously continued to rely on horse-drawn equipment. The Cub proved extremely popular, and the original design continued in production without significant alteration until 1979.
Along with the prominent tractor division, IH also sold several different types of farm related equipment, such as balers, cultivators, combines (self-propelled and pull behind), combine heads, corn shellers, cotton pickers, manure spreaders, hay rakes, crop dusters, disk harrows, elevators, feed grinders, hammer mills, hay conditioners, milking machines, planters, mills, discs, plows and miscellaneous equipment.
Also produced were twine, stationary engines, loaders and wagons.
IH also made light trucks from 1907 to 1975, medium and heavy-duty trucks are still in production.
In the 1970s, motorhomes were manufactured using IHC engines and bare chassis. Most of the bodies were constructed of fiberglass.
IH branched out into the home lawn and garden business in the 1960s with its line of Cub Cadet equipment, which included riding and walk-behind lawn mowers and snow blowers. Also produced were compost shredders, rotary tillers, Cadet garden tractors, and power washers.
The Cub Cadet line was sold to MTD Products in 1981.
In early 1951, the United States Army through the Springfield Armory contracted International Harvester to produce M1 Garand rifles, and from 1953-1956 produced 337,623 rifles in total, according to the Army Ordnance Department.
In 1959, International Harvester created a jet-turbine-powered tractor called the International HT-341. It was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1967.
The above information was retrieved from the International Harvester - Wikipedia