The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company was the first company to manufacture and sell gasoline tractors. The company was formed in 1893 by John Froelich and a group of Iowa businessmen. Froelich built the first successful gasoline tractor in 1892 using a VanDuzen engine mounted on a chassis built by the Robinson Company. This tractor completed a 52 day threshing run in the fall of 1892. Froelich then decided to go into the manufacture of tractors, formed the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. and built four tractors. However only two were sold and both were returned as unsatisfactory. Waterloo then decided to move into the manufacture of stationary engines and abandon tractor manufacture.
In 1911, Waterloo moved back into the manufacturer of tractors after several years of research and experimentation. By 1914 the company had introduced the Model R. By the end of R production in 1918, 8,000 had been sold .
In 1916, Waterloo introduced the Model N which also proved to be a good seller for the Waterloo Company. The Model N stayed in production until 1923 by which time John Deere had purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company.
John Deere recognized that without a tractor in its product line, it was in a weak position against IHC and Fordson. John Deere had been experimenting with tractors but had developed no promising designs. John Deere liked the Waterloo Boy designs as they were simple, reliable and could be built at a price farmers found reasonable. John Deere put in an offer of $2,350,000 for the company and it was accepted.