First Things

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Memories Of A Former Kid
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Aggressive competition, countless start-up
ventures, reinvented companies, rapidly evolving technologies,
startling scientific discoveries, war and revolution … today? Yes,
but also yesterday.

By happy accident, several articles in this issue of Farm
Collector
focus on a unique window in time, the years between
1910 and 1920. Bill Vossler looks at tractor makers who made the
leap into car and truck production in the early years of the last
century. Hank Will revisits the birth of the general purpose row
crop tractor. Jim Boblenz recounts the Samson Sieve-Grip and the
days when General Motors made a run at Ford. Sam Moore chimes in
with Avery’s amazing turnaround, made possible by the creation of a
unique power transmission system. And nearly all of it happened in
one stunning decade.

If you find the pace of change today to be uncomfortably brisk,
“the good old days” of 1910-20 might cause your head to spin. In
that decade, the first transcontinental and first transatlantic
flights took place. Motion pictures and phonographs were dazzlingly
new. By the end of the decade, cars and trucks were widely
available to middle-class buyers. The world was shrinking fast,
thanks to the arrival of the telephone, radio and faster ships. The
Panama Canal opened, Einstein discovered the theory of relativity
and social reform advanced at a dramatic and unprecedented pace.
War and revolution touched nearly every country on the globe.

The history of that decade is a huge story, complex and
multifaceted. It was an era when science and technology were seen
as bigger than man … and yet, the unsinkable ship sank, and
influenza proved deadly to millions. It was an era when ideas
became reality almost overnight; when a man with an idea could
become a manufacturer almost anywhere. There were dozens of car
makers; the field was wide open … and then there was Ford, a
colossus ruling an industry.

Things were quieter, perhaps, on the farm. But change was
brewing. For farm equipment manufacturers, the era was marked by
major shifts and transitions. Steam and stationary gas engines
peaked in usage and technological sophistication, but would soon be
cast aside. Tractors were clearly the wave of the future, but the
technology was young and evolving. New concepts were welcomed,
tested, embraced or abandoned. Sound familiar? It should. Change
is, after all, the only constant.

Leslie McManus, Editor
lmcmanus@ogdenpubs.com

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment