General Electric

From ArticleWorld


General Electric (GE) is a multinational technology, manufacturing and services company. With headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut, GE has offices in over a hundred countries and maintains more than 250 manufacturing plants worldwide. The company operates in several different business sectors, prominent among them household appliances, aircraft engines, electricity distribution and lighting, power systems, business information and financial services and media. It employs over 315,000 persons across the world.

History of GE

The origins of General Electric can be traced back to 1878, when the Edison Electric Light Company was constituted to help American inventor Thomas Edison with research. That was just two years after he had won a patent for the first practical incandescent lamp. In 1889, Edison Electric bought the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company, thus forming the Edison General Electric Company. General Electric was formally founded in 1892 through the merger of Edison’s company with the Thomas-Houston company, which was another leader in electrical manufacturing at that time. Thomas Edison stayed on the new company’s board of directors till 1894.

In the year 1896, GE was one of the original 12 companies to appear on the list of the newly-formed Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is the only one that continues to remain on the list today.

In its early days, GE manufactured electrical power system equipment and played a major role in making electricity a reality in all corners of the United States. A research laboratory established by the company in New York in 1900 ensured a number of important patents. Breakthrough innovations brought about by the company around that time included the tungsten-filament lamp, the X-ray tube and the electric toaster.

Developments and diversification in GE

General Electric manufactured locomotives for transport and also established power distribution systems. In the later decades of the 20th century, GE’s innovative strategies ensured the widespread use of household electrical appliances like food mixers, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines.

In a move to develop and popularize radio technology, GE formed the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in conjunction with Westinghouse Electric. This turned out to be hugely successful and GE went on to start the one of the first radio stations in the U.S. For a short period of time, GE was into computer manufacturing until it sold this business to Honeywell in 1970. In 1986, the company re-acquired the RCA, which it had helped form in 1919, in order to bring forth a media division by the name National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

In 2004, GE acquired assets of Vivendi Universal to emerge the third largest media conglomerate in existence. In the same year, the company spun-off its life and mortgage insurance assets to Genworth Financial. Another major development was the acquisition of the credit card division of the department store Dillard’s for about $1.25 billion.

Future of General Electric

General Electric, being a vast organization with several primary businesses, is the world’s largest corporation in terms of market capitalization. It has revenues in excess of $150 billion and is ever-changing in its structure; with businesses acquired over time and divestitures being effected. It is arguably one of the pioneering forces that will continue to lead technology and business into the competitive future.