The compact machinery market, and in particular the introduction of mini excavators, really started in the latter years of the 1970’s, but I have found this old photo of an American made machine from much earlier.
This machine is a Koehring rope controlled shovel and was pictured during a ground breaking ceremony way back in 1928. Not much information exists on this machine, but it is believed to have been a one off prototype, which never went into full production.
One thing for sure is that I would not like to be the operator of that machine, sitting there just inches away from all that unprotected machinery and wire ropes - it looks like an accident waiting to happen to me!
Nevertheless a very interesting and historically important photograph from our earthmoving heritage, it also shows the way designers were thinking even back in the late 1920’s. I often have a little chuckle these days, as I think to myself that when mini hydraulic excavators were first seriously launched in the late 70’s, many industry professionals and end users said they would never last and that they were just a gimmick - how wrong they were.