General Electric

By 1890, Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of such groundbreaking technologies as the light bulb and jet engine, had organized his various businesses into the Edison General Electric Company.

The Thomson-Houston Company and the several companies that had merged to form it were led by Charles A. Coffin, a former shoe manufacturer from Lynn, Massachusetts. The Edison General Electric company bought out Thomson-Houston Co. in 1892, which created the largest electrical company in American industry: the General Electric Company (GE).

General Electric logo

Mechanical refrigeration

Mechanical refrigeration was the first defining step toward greatness for the newly formed GE Co. That "ice breaking" innovation paved the way for GE to gain a formidable reputation as a leader in technology.

Plain ice was the primary cooling source for family and commercial use prior to the Kelvinator company's small-scale production of mechanical refrigeration. GE capitalized on Kelvinator's limited production by pushing production ahead at full steam.* The emergence of GE's mechanical refrigerator in the 1900s revolutionized the preservation, transportation and refrigeration of food, and exerted extended effects on the economy, the national diet, and life in general for Americans.

By the 1920s, General Electric was an enormous corporation with vast resources and had its finger in almost every sector of the electrical industry in the United States.

Early product lines

Several of Edison's early business offerings are still part of GE today, including lighting, plastics, transportation, industrial products, power transmission and medical equipment. The first GE electric fans were produced at the Ft. Wayne electric works as early as the 1890s, while a full line of heating and cooking devices was developed in 1907.

GE Aircraft Engines, the division's name just since 1987, began its story in 1917 when the U.S. government began a search for a company to develop the first airplane engine turbosupercharger** for the dwindling U.S. aviation industry.

Thomas Edison's experiments with plastic filaments for light bulbs in 1893 led to the first GE Plastics department, created in 1930.

Continued success

Through the years, GE's leaders have assembled a diverse portfolio of innovations. For example, their latest technological advances on the "age-old" windmill may assure the next permanent source of electricity for humanity.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison


*In 1937 Kelvinator Corporation merged with Nash, and formed the Kelvinator-Nash Corporation focusing entirely on the production of automobiles.
**Used in series with geared superchargers, the intercooler and carburetor being located between them. In that way, maximum use can be made of the advantages of each type.

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