There seem to have been two paths to the invention and development of the modern snowmobile (snow machine, skidoo, snow mobile). Carl Eliason has to be listed as inventor of the snowmobile, since his patent is 30 years earlier than the other contender for that honor, Joseph Armand Bombardier. Carl Eliason of Sayner Wisconsin built what is basically a motorized toboggan in 1924, which was patented in 1927. The other path to development started when Joseph Armand Bomdardier of Valcourt Quebec built his first snow coach in the 1930s.
From the first motorized tobogan, Eliason began to make his machine larger and less like a toboggan and more like a modern snowmobile. The Eliason's motorized toboggan started out with a 2.5 hp motor, and by 1937 used a 25 hp motor.
More development led to a 1927 snow vehicle which resembled a Model T on skiis. Many other inventors converted Model T Fords and other cars to ski and track drive.
His next effort led to the successful B-7 model in 1937, which was more of a car on tracks and skis. This was the first model that Bombardier patented. Bombardier then made a number of tracked snow vehicles, including a school bus version, and other larger industrial vehicles.
In 1953 the Eliason machine was the K-12, which was
the last production model. Eliason went out of business in 1963, but a
number of other companies like Polaris made snow machines based on the
expired Eliason patents.
It wasn't until 1959 that Bombardier marketed the Ski-doo. Bombardier had started with larger snow vehicles and worked down to the smaller snow machines. It would be an interesting marketing study to figure out why Bomdardier was successful in this field and Eliason wasn't. A good part of it could have been timing, but an insider to this industry could fill in some history here.
Bombardier became a huge company, with activities in aerospace and transportation, with subsidiaries like Challenger and Global. Bombardier bought the Lear Company, of Lear Jet fame, and also Rotax, makers of small powerful engines. In general, in anything to do with transportation, a Bombardier subsidiary is involved.