A Brief Word

| December/January 1998

While continuing work on our forthcoming tractor encyclopedia, we're amazed at the tractor makes and models that keep appearing. It isn't enough to look at two or three different tractor directories sometimes a particular make appears only in one of them, and for a considerable number of tractors, there is no appearance in any of the directories. Scanning farm magazines and other literature sometimes yields an additional item, and occasionally one might find a tractor advertised in Motor Age or another automotive journal.

Tractor development moved along very quickly in the 1910-1930 period. After all, the tractor evolved from a heavy and awkward machine built over a huge steel chassis into a small, compact, unit frame design in less than twenty years!

Tractor development continued during the 1930s, despite the devastating effects of the Great Depression. By the end of the decade, the majority of farm tractors were redesigned to include streamlining, and this gave tractors a styled and very modern appearance.

An interesting part of our research is the rapid change of methods involved in the research itself. When we began writing books on engines and tractors some thirty years ago, everything was typed out by hand and then taken to a typesetting company. Copying photographs was quite a difficult task that often required doing the work a second time.

For several of our earliest books, the entire manuscript was written out, then typed, then sent to a typesetter. We thought we had reached one step toward heaven when we bought that first IBM PC computer back in 1981. (It even had a spelling checker.) Cameras improved dramatically, and eventually we settled on a Canon A-l to shoot all our photographs.

Now we have hundreds of rolls of film, and along comes a little film scanner into which we feed the film, and presto! The whole thing is converted into electronic bleeps and bytes, we hasten this 'file' onto a Zip Disk, and there's our picture as part of some invisible magnetic media. There's a Page Keeper program that identifies and catalogs all this stuff so that we no longer will have to sort through dozens of rolls of film looking for that negative that isn't where it's supposed to be.


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