D. Dudley Bloom

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D. Dudley Bloom just prior to Asia trip, early 1964

David Dudley Bloom (September 20, 1922 – August 20, 2015) was an American businessman who made notable contributions to the consumer products industry as a conceptual inventor and marketing executive during the 1950s and 1960s, including proposing and designing the first conventional travel luggage built on wheels; marketing the first "magic milk bottle" for dolls; and designing and marketing a continuous-play tape recorder.

Early years[edit]

Dudley Bloom was raised in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, son of Lithuanian immigrants Harry and Cecile Gaffin Bloom. His father was vice-president and sales manager of Bloom Brothers Department Stores in Franklin County, Pennsylvania,[1] and his mother, raised in New York City, had been a bookkeeper for Macy's department stores there before her marriage.[2] Bloom graduated from Dickinson College and Dickinson School of Law (now a division of Pennsylvania State University) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and during World War II was reputedly the youngest commanding officer in the United States Navy, having taken the helm of the supply ship USS Liberty (PY 278) in December 1944 during the New Guinea campaign at the age of 22.[3][4]

Reality-based toys[edit]

After clerking for Millard Ullman, a Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, lawyer, Bloom moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he became assistant buyer of men's clothing at Lit Brothers's flagship department store at 701 Market Street.[5] While working at Lit's, he met his future wife, Nancy Blum, and the couple married in June 1953.[6][7][8]

Bloom then joined the New York City market research firm of A. J. Wood, Inc. Immersion in the then-new field of computerized mass marketing research at the Wood company prepared Bloom in the spring of 1954 to become director of product research and promotion at the American Metals Specialties Corporation (AMSCO), a then-struggling toy manufacturer located in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.[9][10]

At AMSCO, Bloom expanded the company's line of reality-based toys that eschewed traditional military themes for boys and encouraged children of both genders to imitate constructive adult roles.[11] "If we teach our children war and crime," he was quoted by Newsday in 1959, "we haven't much of a future to look forward to."[12][13] He taught the industry that children learn how to be consumers long before they earn money.

The incorporation of consumer products of the major manufacturers into Amsco reality-based play sets[14] enabled children to imitate cooks with products manufactured by General Foods, Procter and Gamble, and Kellogg's; to feed dolls with Gerber's baby food and Pet Milk from a "magic bottle" that disappeared as "Dollee" drank it; and to care for those dolls with real Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo, baby oil and baby powder. Children played doctor and nurse with toy stethoscopes and reflex hammers; playwright, actor, and stage director with magnetic puppet theaters; and astronaut with rockets.[15][16]

Soon, consumer product manufacturers were initiating reality-based campaigns of their own, such as General Foods for its AMSCO-manufactured Maxwell House Coffee Time Set, which was advertised on children's television programs concurrently with the company's "Tastes as Good as it Smells" television advertising campaign for adults,[17] blurring the merchandising line between the toy industry and the food industry.[18][19][20][21][22]

Bloom packaged virtually everything in see-through acetate rather than the cardboard paper to which much of the industry had previously been accustomed.[23][24]

Luggage on wheels[edit]

In between stints at AMSCO (1954–57 and 1959–62), Bloom worked in marketing and product management at Atlantic Products Corporation (now Atlantic Luggage Company of Elwood City, Pennsylvania) in Trenton, New Jersey. Atlantic had been manufacturing the plaid hatboxes for Amsco's popular Betsy McCall Pretty Pac, a child-sized hatbox with an acetate insert that contained plastic miniatures of baby needs for dolls—one of the many "tie-ins" that resulted from cooperation between Amsco and other consumer product manufacturers. Atlantic offered Bloom, the Pretty Pac's product manager, the position of director of product development for its increasingly ubiquitous line of Scotch-plaid travel luggage, an icon of the Eisenhower years.[25]

In 1958, Bloom, who'd long suffered from back pain, proposed that Atlantic manufacture travel luggage that could be pulled on wheels, rather than carried, through airports, bus terminals, and train stations, so he built a model—called in the trade a "mock-up"—of a suitcase attached to a platform with castors and a handle. The company's chairman scoffed at the idea, calling it "impractical". "Who'd want to buy luggage on wheels?" he asked. Although at Christmas, 1949, Bloomingdale's had sold a novelty device that attached to ordinary luggage[26] and camp trunks had been manufactured on wheels since at least the 1880s,[27] no company had ever manufactured rolling travel luggage. A model of rolling luggage was finally developed by Bernard D. Sadow, president of United States Luggage Corporation (now Briggs & Riley Travelware), after he had returned from a grueling business trip, and his company secured a patent for it on April 4, 1972.[28][29][30] The potential of his invention untapped, Bloom soon left Atlantic to return to AMSCO. By the 1980s, virtually all luggage, including book bags for the world's billion schoolchildren, had wheels.[31][32][33]

The continuous-play tape recorder[edit]

After Amsco changed ownership in 1962, Bloom left the company a second time. With the help of Asian engineers, in early 1964 he began working on the design of a tape recorder that would play continuously—i.e., without rewinding—and founded International Audio Corporation in Philadelphia to market the device, mainly to department and specialty stores.

The recorder employed miniature reel-to-reel technology adapted from standard tape recorders and used by small, portable dictation machines since the 1940s.[34] Bloom foresaw utilizing the machine to broadcast marketing messages to passing shoppers, with or without a mechanical or laser triggering mechanism, presaging today's store public address systems, audio boxes linked to museum exhibits, and ultimately the audio cassette player introduced by Philips in Europe in August 1963.[35][36]

Though he'd had no training in electrical engineering, Bloom had spent time in Asia, having participated in the liberation of Japan in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II. He returned there in April 1964 to discuss the tape recorder's design with Hong Kong engineers and oversee its manufacture by the Pioneer Electronics Corporation in Kobe, Japan. But when the finished recorders were delivered that November, few of them worked. Pre-installed batteries had leaked acid into interior compartments of some of the recorders; others' tapes wouldn't record, their iron oxides having presumably been electrochemically altered during storage and shipping.

Other international electronics corporations[37] soon manufactured continuous-loop devices of their own, some of these employing reels, others cassettes; some of them dictation machines, others tape recorders. By the 1970s the continuous-play-capable cassette tape recorder-player had become the predominant consumer audio technology, displacing vinyl records.[38][39]

Residential real estate[edit]

Bloom retired from the consumer products industry in 1965, and in 1966, after having earned the highest score ever recorded on the Pennsylvania real estate brokers exam, spent the rest of his active business career as a residential and commercial real estate broker, representing developments such as Freeport/Lucaya[40] on Grand Bahama Island and Palm Coast, Florida, in southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and northern Delaware.[41] built by the ITT Community Development Corporation (formerly Levitt & Sons).[42][43][44][45]

In 1970, he and his wife founded D. Dudley Bloom and Associates of Ardmore and, later, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and for the remainder of his career, he marketed residential properties along Philadelphia's Main Line.[46][47][48]

Passing[edit]

Bloom died in his sleep early in the morning of August 20, 2015, a month short of his 93rd birthday, at Bryn Mawr (PA) Terrace Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and factors relating to diabetes mellitus. He was buried with full military honors befitting a retired commanding officer of the United States Navy the following day at Roosevelt Memorial Cemetery, Trevose, Pennsylvania.[49]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chambersburg Public Opinion, January 13, 1969, p. 3.
  2. ^ Chambersburg Public Opinion, September 24, 1973, p. 14.
  3. ^ Chambersburg Public Opinion, October 9, 1944.
  4. ^ The Harrisburg Patriot, August 1, 1953.
  5. ^ Philadelphia Daily News Record, January 6, 1953.
  6. ^ Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, May 2, 1953.
  7. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer, July 5, 1953.
  8. ^ Harrisburg (PA) Patriot, August 1, 1953.
  9. ^ EJots, April 1954.
  10. ^ Frederick, Filis. Design and sell toys, games, & crafts. Chilton Book Company, 1977.
  11. ^ Doylestown Daily Intelligencer, December 20, 1958, p. 1.
  12. ^ "New Toys Are Just Plain Fun," Newsday, March 11, 1959, p. 41.
  13. ^ The children and media violence yearbook. UNESCO International Clearinghouse on Children and Violence on the Screen at Nordicom, 1998-2001.
  14. ^ Playthings, May 1961, p. 82.
  15. ^ Newsday.
  16. ^ Juvenile Marketing, September 1960, p. 51.
  17. ^ Maxwell House Coffee Time jingle on YouTube Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  18. ^ Playthings.
  19. ^ O'Brien, Richard. The story of American toys : from the puritans to the present. Abbeville Press, 1990.
  20. ^ Cross, Gary. Kids' stuff: the changing world of American childhood. Harvard University Press, 1997.
  21. ^ Battersby, Gregory J. and Grimes, Charles W. The toy & game inventor’s guide. Kent Press, 1996.
  22. ^ Levey, Richard C., and Weingartner, Ronald O. The toy and game inventor’s handbook. Alpha, 2003.
  23. ^ Juvenile Marketing.
  24. ^ Jankowski, Jerry. Shelf space : modern package design, 1945-1965. Photography by Grant Kessler. Chronicle Books, 1998.
  25. ^ Interviews with D. Dudley Bloom since 2004.
  26. ^ New York Times, December 8, 1949, p. 47.
  27. ^ Bloom since 2004.
  28. ^ Telephone conversation with Bernard Sadow, retired president and chairman of U. S. Luggage, 2006.
  29. ^ Macarthur, Douglas. "Forty Years of Luggage on Wheels." Toronto: The Globe and Mail, August 23, 2012. [1] Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  30. ^ Briggs & Riley Travelware website
  31. ^ Showcase. The Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers of America, 1975-present.
  32. ^ The Market for leather accessories and travel ware : past performance, current trends, and strategies for the future : a business information report. Business Trend Analysts, Inc., 1989.
  33. ^ Pasols, Paul-Gerard. Louis Vuitton: the birth of modern luxury. Translated from the French by Lenora Ammon. Harry N. Abrams, 2005.
  34. ^ Recording History [2] Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  35. ^ Vintage Audio History
  36. ^ Recording History
  37. ^ Recording History
  38. ^ Chandler, Alfred D. Inventing the electronic century : the epic story of the consumer electronics and computer industry. Harvard University Press, 2005.
  39. ^ Bloom since 2004.
  40. ^ Hannau, Hans W. Freeport/Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. Doubleday, 1969.
  41. ^ McGoun, William E. Southeast Florida Pioneers: the Palm and Treasure Coasts. Historical Society of Palm Beach County, 1998.
  42. ^ Duck Key Beachcomber, August–September 1965, p. 2.
  43. ^ Palm Beach Gazette, February 1966, p. 14.
  44. ^ Gans, Herbert J. The Levittowners. Columbia University Press, 1982.
  45. ^ Bergsman, Steve. Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy, and Crisis. Dancing Traveler Publishing, 2011.
  46. ^ Dixon, Mark E. The Hidden History of the Main Line: From Philadelphia to Malvern. The History Press, 2010.
  47. ^ Main Line Times, Ardmore, Pennsylvania, around 1968.
  48. ^ Palm Beach Gazette, February 1966, p. 14.
  49. ^ "D. Dudley Bloom". Philly.com. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • American Plastic Toys, [3]
  • Atlantic Luggage Company, [4]
  • Bloom Brothers Department Stores, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, 1897–1944
  • Briggs & Riley Travelware, [5]
  • Clydesight Vintage Tape Recorders [6]
  • Gulshan, Helenka. Vintage Luggage: A History. Philip Wilson, 2003.
  • History of American Toys, [7]
  • History and Evolution of the Audio Recorder by Ralph D. Thomas, [8]
  • Jaffe, Deborah. The History of Toys. The History Press, 2006.
  • The McCord Museum, Montreal, Canada, [9]
  • Playthings, toy industry trade journal, [10]
  • Radio Museum, [11]
  • Recording History, [12]
  • The Toy Industry Association (TIA), [13]
  • The Toy Directory, [14]
  • Vintage Audio History, [15]
  • Vintage Radio Forum, [16]
  • Vintage Technics, [17]
  • Walsh, Tim. Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel, 2005.