The early pioneers of trucking, in their open-air cabs and solid-tire workhorses, could have never predicted the degree of innovation that their truckdriving heirs will wheel into the next century.
Although the hard-wheeled, steam-powered carriages of the early 1900s looked nothing like today's heavy-duty trucks, they paved the way for the drivers of today who travel in comfort and efficiency unimaginable to their forefathers.
Here's just some of the milestones that shaped the big rigs we now see on the road.
1900 - The White brothers build their first truck, powered with steam; Henry Ford builds his first CMV (priced at $1,000).
1904 - The first Diamond-T truck hits the road.
1905 - The Mack brothers build their first trucks.
1907 - Autocar introduces a two-ton truck with shaft driven axle; the Auto Wagon is born, made by International Harvester.
1908 - Michelin introduces dual truck tires.
1911 - General Motor Truck Co. is formed; a Swiss-built truck called a Sauger makes the first transcontinental run.
1912 - Brockway Motor Co. builds its first truck; a Packard truck hauls a three-ton load from New York to San Francisco in 46 days.
1915 - Mack introduces the AC "Bulldog." The Gerlinger Motor Co. (later Kenworth) builds its first truck; Fageol, forerunner of Peterbilt, is founded.
1917 - Henry Ford's company begins producing trucks.
1918 - Total truck population in the U.S. reaches one million.
1919 - Clessie Cummins begins building diesel engines in Columbus, IN, founding the engine company that bears his name.
1921 - The first mechanical reefer van is introduced, the first sleepers appear.
1924 - Ken-Worth introduces its first truck.
1925 - Two ag equipment makers consolidate in CA forming the Caterpillar Tractor Co. Nearly 500,000 miles of U.S. roads have hard surfaces.
1931 - The Cummins Engine Co. is founded to build diesel engines. Caterpillar, introduces an 89 hp engine, the D9900. The 5,000 lb. engine known as "Old Betsy" is now in the Smithsonian.
1932 - Ken-Worth offers the new Cummins engine in its trucks. Fageol Motor Co. of Oakland, CA, goes into receivership after 17 years of producing heavy-duty trucks and luxury buses.
1935 - White introduces a new line of trucks.
1937 - GM forms Detroit Diesel Engine to build two-stroke engines for trucks; the first American-made synethic rubber tire is built by Goodyear.
1938 - Mack introduces their first diesel engine; T.A Peterman, a logger and plywood manufacturer from Tacoma, WA, buys Fageol Motor Co. and introduces the Peterbilt nameplate.
1939 - Cat introduces their first diesel truck engine, weighing 2,000 lbs.
1941 - As the nation goes to war, Pacific Car & Foundry's Renton, WA, plant, builds Sherman tanks.
1942 - Freightliner is established as a subsidiary of Consolidated Freightways, Inc.
1944 - Kenworth Motor Truck of Seattle becomes a division of Pacific Car & Foundry Co.
1947 - Freightliner introduces the "Bubblenose" Model 800 COE.
1949 - International introduces the L-series.
1951 - White and Freightliner agree to a marketing/servicing deal and the White-Freightliner nameplate is born; White buys Sterling Motor Truck Co. (Sterling-White nameplate).
1953 - Autocar is acquired by White.
1954 - Allison produces the first automatic transmission.
1956 - Mack begins selling Brockway trucks.
1958 - Peterbilt is sold to Pacific Car & Foundry Co., who acquired Dart Truck Co. this same year; White purchases Diamond-T.
1960 - Caterpillar introduces their first truck engine, the Cat 1673.
1966 - PACCAR, having already established a plant in Mexico, introduces Kenworth to Australia in 1966.
1967 - White establishes the Diamond Reo truck division; White introduces Western Star and opens a plant in British Columbia to manufacture them.
1969 - Ford introduces the Louisville series of conventional trucks; GMC introduces the Astro cabover.
1970 - International introduces the Transtar.
1971 - White sells Diamond Reo to F.L. Cappaert.
1972 - Pacific Car & Foundry Co. changes its name to PACCAR Inc.; International Harvester acquires share of DAF, a Dutch truckmaker.
1973 - White introduces the Road Boss conventional; Peterbilt offers the 359 conventional.
1974 - Detroit Diesel offers the Series 92 rated at 450 hp; Cat introduces its 3400 series engine.
1975 - Peterbilt of Canada is established.
1977 - The White-Freightliner agreement comes to an end.
1979 - Freightliner begins to market Volvo trucks in U.S.
1980 - White files for reorganization and divests all non-truck operations; Peterbilt's assembly plant in Denton, TX, is completed.
1981 - AB Volvo buys manufacturing assets from White and forms Volvo White Truck Corp.; Freightliner is sold to Daimler-Benz AG.
1985 - Kenworth introduces the T600; Cat introduces air-to-air cooling.
1986 - International Harvester changes its name to Navistar International and cedes IH logo/name to Tenneco.
1987 - Navistar introduces the aerodynamic 8300 series; Detroit Diesel introduces the Series 60; Cat introduces electronic controls.
1988 - AB Volvo and General Motors agree to form Volvo GM Heavy Truck.
1990 - Cummins introduces Celect; Mack introduced V-MAC, both are electronic engine control systems.
1993 - Peterbilt introduces the Unibilt Cab Sleeper System.
1996 - PACCAR acquires Dutch truckmakers DAF; Western Star acquires UK truckmaker, ERF; Kenworth introduces the T2000.
1997 - Freightliner acquires Ford heavy truck product line and renames it Sterling Truck Corp.; AB Volvo purchases remaining shares of General Motors and becomes Volvo Trucks of North America; Cummins introduces the Signature 600; Meritor Automotive is born, independent of Rockwell Automotive.
Acknowledgments: Meritor Automotive; Western Star Trucks; Caterpillar Inc.; Cummins Engine Co.; Pittsburgh Diesel Institute; PACCAR Inc; 100 Years of Trucking (Heavy Duty Trucking 1998); Peterbilt Motor Truck Co; Kenworth Trucks; Michelin North America, Inc.; Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; Freightliner Trucks.