EAST MOLINE, Ill. - More than 80 years after introducing its first combine, John Deere Harvester Works has rolled its half-millionth self-propelled combine off the assembly line in East Moline.

The machine - a 9870 model - will be on display all summer at the John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline. It also will make an appearance at the Farm Progress Show, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 in Boone.

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"Reaching 500,000 self-propelled combines is a significant milestone for us," said Dennis Muszalski, Harvester Works' factory manager.

Muszalski added that the milestone "celebrates generations of dedicated employees who have been part of Harvester Works and part of the greater Quad-Cities community."

On May 19, the combine was presented to its new owner, Greg Briggs of Cisco, Ill., as part of the John Deere Gold Key program. The program provides customers with an exclusive tour of the factory and the opportunity to be the first to start their own machine on the line. Briggs will take ownership of the combine this fall after Deere displays it. Gold Key owners receive special plaques.

The factory first began producing binders in 1910, just two years before Deere broke ground on the current John Deere Harvester Works. The factory initially manufactured horse-drawn grain binders, mowers, rakes and corn binders.

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In 1927, Deere introduced its first combine - uniting harvesting and threshing in one operation. Twenty years later, John Deere manufactured the company's first self-propelled combine.

The East Moline facility manufactures four combine models as well as a complete line of front end equipment. It employs about 2,400 people - including employees at the John Deere Product Development Center in Silvis, Ill.

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