Backhoes have been around for quite a long time. They have evolved over the years to be a very versatile machine. Most tractor or equipment maufactures build or have built backhoes at one time or another. Today the major builders of rubber tired backhoes is Caterpiller, John Deere, Case and JCB. The first three manufactures are from the USA where as JCB is a British based company.
The main difference between backhoes and excavators is that the backhoe not only has a digging boom but it also has the front end loader that allows it dig a ditch or trench and also be able to move the dirt away to a stock pile. You can also load trucks using the front end loader as well as back blading. The rubber tired backhoe is on tires and not tracks, it allows you to travel down roads at speeds as high as 40 Km per hour.
Some of the disadvantages of a rubber tire backhoes verses an excavator is the the rubber tired backhoe is not as stable on loose terrain or is very limited in steep terrain. Also the swing of the boom is only 180 degrees verses a full 360 degree swing of an excavator.
In the early days backhoes were just glorified farm tractors. Most if not all were just a two wheel drive gas powered machine. Digging booms were quite heavy so the machines seemed to be off balance quite a bit. Most of the older backhoes had shallow digging depths and because they were just two wheel drive even the common task of using a front end loader would be a chore. Once the front bucket was being used in a pile of material such as compacted dirt, lifting the front end looader had a tendantcy of raising the rear wheels slighly. This in turn caused the backhoes back wheels to "spin" and loose out on valuable traction. In a lot of cases you would have to take just particle backets of material.
Today however almost all rubber tired backhoes are equipt with four wheel drive or MFD which is mechanical front wheel drive or front wheel assist. This allow these backhose to be extremely nimble machines. Turning radius can be very short and tight and these machines can work well in tight spaces. Shuttle transmissions make shifting from forward to reverse a breeze as her is no need to clutch a transmission. Other features include 4 in 1 buckets, self leveling loaders, extending hydraulic booms and comfy cabs.
You can get a lot of attachments for rubber tired back hoes also. Attachments for not only the back hoes portion but also for the front end loader component of the machine. Attchments such as hydraulic breakers, pole hole augers, hydraulic thumbs for the digging buckets, pallet forks for the front end loader, sweepers and more. All of these attachments along with the versatility of these machines, makes these backhoes a piece of equipment that is hard to beat.