General Electric Stocks & Bonds - Ghosts of Wall Street

General Electric

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    During 1889, Thomas Edison had business interests in many electricity-related companies including Edison Lamp Company, a lamp manufacturer in East Newark, New Jersey; Edison Machine Works, a manufacturer of dynamos and large electric motors in Schenectady, New York; Bergmann & Company, a manufacturer of electric lighting fixtures, sockets, and other electric lighting devices; and Edison Electric Light Company, the patent-holding company and the financial arm backed by J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family for Edison's lighting experiments.

    In 1889, Drexel, Morgan & Co., a company founded by J.P. Morgan and Anthony J. Drexel, financed Edison's research and helped merge those companies under one corporation to form Edison General Electric Company, which was incorporated in New York on April 24, 1889. The new company also acquired Sprague Electric Railway & Motor Company in the same year.

    In 1880, Gerald Waldo Hart formed the American Electric Company of New Britain, Connecticut, which merged a few years later with Thomson-Houston Electric Company, led by Charles Coffin. In 1887, Hart left to become superintendent of the Edison Electric Company of Kansas City, Missouri. General Electric was formed through the 1892 merger of Edison General Electric Company, and Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Massachusetts, with the support of Drexel, Morgan & Co. Both plants continue to operate under the GE banner to this day. The company was incorporated in New York, with the Schenectady plant used as headquarters for many years thereafter. Around the same time, General Electric's Canadian counterpart, Canadian General Electric, was formed.

    Public Company

    In 1896, General Electric was one of the original 12 companies listed on the newly formed Dow Jones Industrial Average, where it remained a part of the index for 122 years, though not continuously.

    In 1911, General Electric absorbed the National Electric Lamp Association (NELA) into its lighting business. GE established its lighting division headquarters at Nela Park in East Cleveland, Ohio. The lighting division has since remained in the same location.

    RCA and NBC

    Owen D. Young, through GE, founded the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1919, after purchasing the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America. He aimed to expand international radio communications. GE used RCA as its retail arm for radio sales. In 1926, RCA co-founded the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), which built two radio broadcasting networks. In 1930, General Electric was charged with antitrust violations and decided to divest itself of RCA.

    Television

    In 1927, Ernst Alexanderson of GE made the first demonstration of his television broadcasts at his General Electric Realty Plot home at 1132 Adams Rd, Schenectady, New York. On January 13, 1928, he made what was said to be the first broadcast to the public in the United States on GE's W2XAD: the pictures were picked up on 1.5 square inch screens in the homes of four GE executives. The sound was broadcast on GE's WGY (AM).

    Experimental television station W2XAD evolved into station WRGB which, along with WGY and WGFM (now WRVE), was owned and operated by General Electric until 1983.

    Power Generation

    Led by Sanford Alexander Moss, GE moved into the new field of aircraft turbo superchargers. GE introduced the first set of superchargers during World War I, and continued to develop them during the interwar period. Superchargers became indispensable in the years immediately prior to World War II. GE supplied 300,000 turbo superchargers for use in fighter and bomber engines. This work led the U.S. Army Air Corps to select GE to develop the nation's first jet engine during the war. This experience, in turn, made GE a natural selection to develop the Whittle W.1 jet engine that was demonstrated in the United States in 1941. GE was ranked ninth among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. Although, their early work with Whittle's designs was later handed to Allison Engine Company. GE Aviation then emerged as one of the world's largest engine manufacturers, bypassing the British company, Rolls-Royce plc.

    Some consumers boycotted GE light bulbs, refrigerators and other products during the 1980s and 1990s. The purpose of the boycott was to protest against GE's role in nuclear weapons production.

    In 2002, GE acquired the wind power assets of Enron during its bankruptcy proceedings. Enron Wind was the only surviving U.S. manufacturer of large wind turbines at the time, and GE increased engineering and supplies for the Wind Division and doubled the annual sales to $1.2 billion in 2003. It acquired ScanWind in 2009.

    Computing

    GE was one of the eight major computer companies of the 1960s along with IBM, Burroughs, NCR, Control Data Corporation, Honeywell, RCA and UNIVAC. GE had a line of general purpose and special purpose computers, including the GE 200, GE 400, and GE 600 series general purpose computers, the GE 4010, GE 4020, and GE 4060 real-time process control computers, and the DATANET-30 and Datanet 355 message switching computers (DATANET-30 and 355 were also used as front end processors for GE mainframe computers). A Datanet 500 computer was designed, but never sold.

    In 1962, GE started developing its GECOS (later renamed GCOS) operating system, originally for batch processing, but later extended to timesharing and transaction processing. Versions of GCOS are still in use today. From 1964 to 1969, GE and Bell Laboratories (which soon dropped out) joined with MIT to develop the Multics operating system on the GE 645 mainframe computer. The project took longer than expected and was not a major commercial success, but it demonstrated concepts such as single level store, dynamic linking, hierarchical file system, and ring-oriented security. Active development of Multics continued until 1985.

    GE got into computer manufacturing because in the 1950s they were the largest user of computers outside the United States federal government, aside from being the first business in the world to own a computer. Its major appliance manufacturing plant "Appliance Park" was the first non-governmental site to host one. However, in 1970, GE sold its computer division to Honeywell, exiting the computer manufacturing industry, though it retained its timesharing operations for some years afterwards. GE was a major provider of computer time-sharing services, through General Electric Information Services (GEIS, now GXS), offering online computing services that included GEnie.

    In 2000 when United Technologies Corporation planned to buy Honeywell, GE made a counter-offer that was approved by Honeywell. On July 3, 2001, the European Union issued a statement that "prohibit the proposed acquisition by General Electric Co. of Honeywell Inc.". The reasons given were it "would create or strengthen dominant positions on several markets and that the remedies proposed by GE were insufficient to resolve the competition concerns resulting from the proposed acquisition of Honeywell."

    Acquisitions and Divestments

    In 1986, GE reacquired RCA, primarily for the NBC television network (also parent of Telemundo Communications Group). The remainder was sold to various companies, including Bertelsmann (Bertelsmann acquired RCA Records) and Thomson SA, which traces its roots to Thomson-Houston, one of the original components of GE. Also in 1986, Kidder, Peabody & Co., a U.S.-based securities firm, was sold to GE and following heavy losses was sold to PaineWebber in 1994.

    In 2004, GE bought 80% of Universal Pictures from Vivendi. Vivendi bought 20% of NBC forming the company NBCUniversal. GE then owned 80% of NBCUniversal and Vivendi owned 20%. On December 3, 2009, it was announced that NBCUniversal would become a joint venture between GE and cable television operator Comcast. Comcast would hold a controlling interest in the company, while GE would retain a 49% stake and would buy out shares owned by Vivendi.

    On March 19, 2013, Comcast bought GE's shares in NBCU for $16.7 billion, ending the company's longtime stake in television and film media.

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    Canadian General Electric Company, Limited Stock Certificate
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    General Electric Company Bond Certificate
    General Electric Company Bond Certificate
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