General Electric Company History

Thomas Edison was credited with inventing the light bulb in a research laboratory he set up in 1876 and this is his major credit to fame. What most people don't know is that he was one of the main founders of the General Electric Company. Edison had by 1990 built up a number of separate business ventures and pulled them all together to make one large company called Edison General Electric. At the same time another businessman called Charles Coffin through shrewd buying of patents had also brought together a number of smaller businesses to form the Thomson - Houston Company . These two companies had different patents and had difficulty producing products because of this and in 1982 these two companies merged and the resultant company was called General Electric. Twelve companies were put on the first Dow Jones industrial index in 1986 and General Electric was one of them and the only one to remain on it today.

Research was a key factor in the companies success and from start the company employed scientists and engineers to develop new technology and products and they convinced the then head of the company Charles Coffin to open a research laboratory. At one of the meetings to discuss setting up a lab one founding member stated "It does seem to me therefore that a Company as large as the General Electric Company, should not fail to continue investing and developing in new fields: there should, in fact, be a research laboratory for commercial applications of new principles, and even for the discovery of those principles." The first research laboratory was opened in 1910 and was in a converted barn in the back yard of distinguished industrial scientist Charles Proteus Steinmetz.

1911 saw the company take over the National Electric Lamp Association and build the world's first industrial park in Ohio called Nela Park. By 1915 they had made the first household toaster and brought in the hotpoint appliance range. The research lab was making advancements in plastics and electronics. By 1925 the company had grown now involved in many projects including construction, aircraft engines, household goods and generating stations. They produced the first supercharger which gave them the edge over competitors in the aircraft industry and motor racing and provided planes with the most powerful engines during the Second World War. The late 20s and 30s brought many developments for the home with cookers, refrigerators, air conditioning and televisions all mass produced for domestic use. A finance division was set up to allow people who were struggling to be able to buy these appliances during the depression. The war years saw development focus on the aircraft industry with radar, autopilots, and turboprops being built and research on jet engines carried out.

General Electric was so large and diverse that it branched out into many divisions to be able to manage and research each area better. They are a household name with kitchen appliances and electrical products for the home as well as being a worldwide industrial giant in construction and engineering The company is still growing and today uses the phrase "GE Is Imagination at work"

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