Bloomington Information And Technology History Project Caps City Bicentennial

(BLOOMINGTON) – A chronicle of Bloomington’s evolution as a hub for technological innovation is now available on the City of Bloomington’s website. As part of the City of Bloomington’s Bicentennial observance, the Information & Technology Services Department (ITS) has produced a history of the city’s emergence throughout 200 years as a global leader in the field of information technology.

An essay and an accompanying timeline trace Bloomington’s IT history to the city’s founding in 1818, acknowledging the roles played by the public, private, nonprofit and education sectors, especially the significant leadership provided by Indiana University. The project integrates Bloomington’s milestones in informatics and computing into the larger context of its economic and intellectual history, with a special emphasis on developments in manufacturing and media. Among other themes, the account attributes Bloomington’s position on the vanguard of innovation and connectivity to the many forward-thinking entrepreneurs, scholars, and policy-makers who have called the city home.
“A fascinating account of our community’s accomplishments in IT, this project also showcases the innovative thinking, bold decision making and hard work that have launched Bloomington into the new economy,” said Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton. “As we continue to explore how to harness technology in the service of all of our residents, this record of the way government, the private sector, community organizations, and the university have worked together provides useful guidance.”
As its contribution to the City’s Bicentennial observance, ITS partnered to produce the history project with Martin Minner, a local historian, and writer with a technology background. Minner conducted interviews with local technologists from the public, private, nonprofit and education sectors and researched primary sources including those from The Herald-Times, IU and Monroe County libraries, and the Monroe County Historical Society.
The timeline traces Bloomington’s technological history from the arrival of the first train (1853), the establishment of telegraph service (1859), the publication of the first newspaper (1877), the installation of the first electric light (1881) and the introduction of telephone service (1895) to mid-twentieth-century initiatives such as the manufacture of the world’s first color television set at Bloomington’s RCA plant and the establishment of IU’s Research Computing Center (both in 1954). The Bicentennial project draws a thread from these early milestones in Bloomington’s culture of innovation to the City’s early provision of web-based municipal services, IU’s preeminence in informatics and networking, and the growth of the city’s high-technology sector.
“The Bicentennial is a chance to explore our past, to document our history, and to set our sights on the next 200 years,” said City of Bloomington ITS Director Rick Dietz. “This history and timeline give insight into our past that might otherwise have been forgotten. I hope this Bicentennial history is just a start, because new threads in our technology story are being woven every day.”
The City’s Bicentennial IT History Project is available here.