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Adopting New Technologies

Adopting New Technologies

After World War II advancing transportation and communication technology continued to impact the work place. By the end of the century new technologies, espeically computers, had effected the greatest changes for workers.

Changing Customer Service

Merchant-to-customer service and interaction declined dramatically as new computer technologies enabled self-service at gas stations and other retail businesses.


Elmo A. (1902-1976) and Eldon Quinn (1984), Texaco gas station owners

Punch Cards and Computing

After World War II, employees at area insurance companies processed more and more policies. The use of new computer technologies enabled these companies to continue to grow, while reducing paperwork.


Sandra Harsher Haas, (1949 – ), keypunch operator

Applying Innovations

Local manufacturers found ways to utilize technologies developed during World War II.


Kathy Musselman Kaufman, (1948 – ), hairdresser

Fair Labor Practices Improve

With access to both highway and rail transportation, national companies were attracted to McLean County. Local hiring practices began to change.


Ruth Waddell, (1923 – 2021), General Electric assembly line

Urban Expansion Created Jobs

Many construction and infrastructure jobs resulted from the urban expansion that began east of Veterans Parkway. It was also a time when women began to work in fields dominated by male workers.


Patricia O’Neil Wannemacher, (1931 – 2013), owner of Wannemacher Electric
Julie Violano Powell Brandt, (1955 – ), General Telephone maintenance splicer

Merchants Move to Bloomington’s East Side

When Eastland Mall was completed in 1966, some Bloomington merchants opened a second store at this new location. Others relocated to the mall.


Grace B. Smith (1907-1990), (1907 – 1990), Roland's employee and part-owner
Alan P. James, manager at Kmart
Lloyd Ringler, manager at J.C. Penny

Robotics Replaces Some Workers, But Hand Work Remains Necessary

When Diamond Star Motors began production in 1988, the assembly line included state-of-the-art robotic arms that did 90 percent of the welding. Fortunately there were still many jobs for workers.


Dan Nelson, (1949 – 2004), assembly line at Mitsubishi
Charlie E. Gordon (1933-2014) and Ralph Walden (1933-2008), Firestone tire manufacturers

Sound Advancements

Engineers working at Bloomington’s WJBC AM radio developed new audio recording technologies that dramatically changed radio broadcasting.


John P. “Jack” Jenkins, (1932 – 2009), audio engineer

Diesel Engines Replace Steam Engines

The merger of the Chicago & Alton and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio (GM&O) railroads in 1946, and the switch from steam engines to diesel engines, dramatically reduced employment at Bloomington’s shops. Employment dwindled from 1,200 in 1946 to 476 by 1950. The shops closed by 1972.


Ralph D.W. Gapen, (1919 – 1991), C&A brakeman
Domingo Carranza, (1931 – 2019), C&A section hand

Advancing Healthcare


Dr. Loren M. Boon, (1917 – 1995), doctor