The hyperspace tractor beam was developed as a primitive form of hyperdrive. It was an advancement to standard hyperdrives in use at the time, which required extraordinary amounts of physical space and power, and were too large to fit on smaller ships. The hyperspace tractor beam could move these smaller ships through hyperspace when they couldn't do so under their own power.
The Celestials realized that such a device had great potential on a larger scale, and that the beam emitters could be enlarged enough to move bigger and bigger objects through hyperspace. Centerpoint Station was thereby constructed as an enormous hyperspace tractor beam large enough to move entire planets and stars. It was the only known such station, and used so much power that the Celestials had to move planets into orbit around it to provide power.
The hyperspace tractor beam may have been the basis for hypergates.