Until the 19th century and into the early 20th century heavy machines were drawn under human or animal power. With the advent of portable steam- powered engines the drawn machine precursors were reconfigured with the new engines, such as the combine harvester.
The design of a core tractor evolved around the new steam power source into a new machine core traction engine, that
can be configured as the steam tractor and the steamroller.
During the 20th century, internal-combustion engines became the major power source of heavy equipment. Kerosene and ethanol engines were used, but today diesel engines are dominant. Mechanical transmission was in many cases replaced by hydraulic machinery.
The early 20th century also saw new electric-powered machines such as the forklift. Caterpillar Inc. The first mass-produced heavy machine was the Fordson tractor in 1917.