Little Bits of History

April 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 15, 2017

1892: General Electric (GE) is founded. Thomas Edison opened his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1876. By 1889, he had several electricity-related companies: Edison Lamp Company, Edison Machine Works, Bergmann & Company, and Edison Electric Light Company among them. The last of these was the patent holding company as well as the financially backed portion of the business with money from JP Morgan and the Vanderbilt family. In 1889, Drexel, Morgan & Co. were financing Edison’s research and helped to merge his many business holding into one corporation, the Edison General Electric Company. It was incorporated on April 24, 1889 and began acquiring other ventures.

About the same time, Thomson-Houston Electric Company was also building a conglomerate of related business, buying up competitors in order to gain control over patents. On this day, with the merger of the two major players, General Electric was born. Edison’s base had been in Schenectady, New York while Thomson was located in Lynn, Massachusetts. Both companies continue to operate under the GE banner to this day. In 1896, GE was one of the original twelve companies listed on the newly formed Dow Jones Industrial Average and all these years later, it is the only company on the beginning registry still in existence.

The businesses under the GE umbrella have grown with time. The first major sector brought in was the National Electric Lamp Association which in 1911 was merged and the headquarters set in East Cleveland, Ohio. By 1919, RCA was founded and remained part of GE until 1930. GE became interested in television almost immediately and owned and operated several TV stations. GE is involved in power generation from many different sources and is involved in the production of many different types of power, including solar and wind. In the 1960s, they were one of the eight major computer companies.

GE is a multinational company with business in several segments of the economy: power and water, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, transportation, and capital. Originally headquartered in Schenectady, today’s headquarters are in Boston, Massachusetts with a changing site to the South Boston Waterfront area taking place over the course of two years. Jeffrey Immelt is Chairman and CEO of GE which has over 300,000 employees in the various divisions and businesses. There are eight major subsidiaries bringing in over $140 billion. It is one of the largest companies in the world and has had employees who won the Nobel Prize twice (once in 1932 and again in 1973).

Electricity is really just organized lightning. – George Carlin

We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb. – Bill Bryson

We believe that electricity exists, because the electric company keeps sending us bills for it, but we cannot figure out how it travels inside wires. – Dave Barry

Why is electricity so expensive these days? Why does it cost so much for something I can make with a balloon and my hair? – Dennis Miller

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