They are currently the same machines as snapper & simplicity..
I dont have full details, but here is what I know:
John Deere made their own snowblowers from 19?? to 1991.
From 1991 to 2001 JD snowblowers were made by Ariens (good) and Murray (not so good)
From 2001 to 2005 JD snowblowers were made by Murray, under the "frontier" name.
2005 to today, JD snowblowers are made by Briggs & Stratton, who also builds/owns the Snapper, Simplicity and Murray snowblower lines..Unlike Ariens, Toro and Honda, current JD snowblowers share no evolutionary DNA with original JD snowblowers..they have been made by several different manufacturers over the years..
Current JD snowblowers are believed to be updated Murray designs..higher-end machines might be Simplicity designs, but im not sure about that..
if anyone has more to add to that, I would love to hear it!
much of that info is still nebulous and quite incomplete..but the manufacturers go out of their way to *not* let those kinds of details be known..