A blacksmith from Illinois called John Deere founded the company in 1837 when he started to build highly polished ploughs made from steel. The company progressed through the years and built their first tractor in 1918 after they acquired the Waterloo Gasoline Tractor Co. They had limited sales success until they produced the Model D in 1923 which remained in production for the following 30 years. Their 2-cylinder tractors became warmly known as ‘Johnny Poppers’ or ‘Poppin' Johnnie's’ because of their distinctive exhaust note. John Deere was predominately a US brand until they purchased the German Lanz factory in 1960 to enable them to gain a foothold in the European market making them a truly global tractor manufacturer.