Our Legacy of Innovation
No other American company can claim a heritage of innovation as deep and broad as GE. From Thomas Alva Edison’s first incandescent light bulb to the latest jet engine brimming with internet-connected sensors and 3D-printed parts, GE has pioneered technologies that have spurred world-transforming changes and improved the lives of billions. We’ve encapsulated GE’s global impact in nine different industries, highlighting four key technological transformations where we have consistently led the way. Together, these moments trace an arc of innovation that has no parallel—a proven 150-year commitment to progress that will help propel a brighter future for the world.
Four ways GE has changed the world we live in
GE builds a record-capacity water-wheel generator for Niagara Falls.
The first hydro turbine is built by Neyret Beylier Piccard Pictet (NBPP), the company that later became part of Alstom Energy, which is later acquired by GE.
Niagara orders two generators from GE to replace the original 65,000 kVA unit.
A GE 82,500-kva turbine is first brought online at the Hoover Dam, which would soon become the largest hydropower facility in the world.
The Grand Coulee Dam, with generators made by GE, opens in Washington.
Alstom, whose energy assets were later acquired by GE, optimizes the classic Francis water turbine, increasing output.
Alstom, whose energy assets were later acquired by GE, optimizes the classic Pelton turbine, increasing output.
The Itaipu Dam between Brazil and Paraguay goes online, becoming the world’s largest generator of hydropower to date.
GE is part of a consortium that builds turbines for Three Gorges Dam in China.
GE expands its renewable energy portfolio with the acquisition of Alstom Energy.
GE unveils Digital Hydro Plant technology, which makes hydropower more efficient through automation and data-driven maintenance.
GE launches a brand-new aerating hydro turbine technology.
GE launches a new technology that allows fish to safely pass through hydroelectric power stations.
The world’s first gas turbine for electricity production is created.
GE ships the United States’ first gas turbine for electricity production to Oklahoma Gas & Electric.
GE provides Union Pacific with 8,500 horsepower gas-turbine electric locomotives.
GE’s turbines are used by a US naval destroyer for the first time.
The world’s first F-class turbine begins operation and is still running to this day.
GE’s H System gas turbine test operations start.
GE introduce s the flagship HA gas turbine, the fastest fleet of heavy-duty gas turbines in the world.
GE finishes the first production unit of the 9HA Gas Turbine.
GE’s HA turbine is recognized by Guinness World Records with an efficiency of up to 62.
GE earns another Guinness World Record for efficiency.
The GE supercharger makes its maiden flight over McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio.
Lt. John Macready sets a new world altitude record with a GE Supercharger.
GE develops the innovative magneto compass.
Howard Hughes sets a transcontinental air record.
GE builds the first US jet engine, the I-A.
US military aircraft equipped with approximately 100,000 GE turbo superchargers for the war effort.
The US Army Air Corps flies its first operational jet fighter, powered by a GE J33.
GE introduces the J47, which becomes the world’s most-produced jet engine.
GE’s Small Aircraft Engine Division in Lynn, Massachusetts, designs the T58 “baby gas turbine.”
GE develops the J93, the first engine to operate at three times the speed of sound.
GE unveils the TF39 turbofan.
GE’s first afterburning turbofan, the F101, is selected to power the US Air Force’s new B-1 Bomber.
GE delivers its first T700 to power Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters.
The CFM56 Engine is introduced.
The GE90-115B engine sets a world record for thrust.
GE begins development of the GEnx engine.
GE and Safran Aircraft Engines unveil the LEAP-X next-generation engine program.
Boeing selects the GE9X as the sole engine for its 777X commercial planes.
The initial architecture of GE’s Affinity, the first commercial supersonic engine in 55 years, is introduced.
Thomas Edison and his team develop the first dynamos capable of powering neighborhood-wide lighting systems.
Elihu Thomson invents the integrating wattmeter.
GE creates Ebasco (Electric Bond and Share Company) Systems.
Shippingport Atomic Power Station becomes the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant.
World’s first commercial thyristor High Voltage Direct Current scheme (HVDC) debuts at Eel River, Canada.
GE introduces the P4A, the first digital relay, signifying a technological leap forward in electrical protection.
GE introduces the first wide-area protection schemes.
GE releases Green Gas for Grid (or g3).
GE improves performance of power grids through its acquisition of Alstom Energy.
GE enters the wind business through the acquisition of Enron’s wind assets.
Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm in Oregon uses 338 of GE’s 2.5 MW wind turbines to generate 2,000 GWh annually.
GE enters the offshore renewable energy industry through the Alstom Energy acquisition.
The Block Island Wind Farm near Rhode Island becomes the first offshore wind farm to go online in the US.
GE completes acquisition of LM Wind Power, a Denmark-based maker of rotor blades.
GE launches its largest onshore turbine to date, which features unique two-piece blades.
The first Haliade-X 12 MW wind turbine prototype is installed in Maasvlakte-Rotterdam.
GE and Fanuc combine to create GE Fanuc Automation Corporation, which manufactures programmable logic controllers—one of the fundamental building blocks of what’s come to be known as the Industrial Internet of Things.
GE introduces the first digital control system for utility networks.
GE launches the first optical multiplexer for high speed utility communications of voice, video, and data.
GE launches first protection relays to support Ethernet and peer-to-peer communications.
GE Measurement and Control is established.
GE launches the Multilin D90plus, the world’s fastest sub-cycle distance protection relay.
GE introduces the innovative HardFiber process bus solution.
GE opens digital collaboration centers in Dubai, Shanghai, and Paris.
GE Aviation opens its digital collaboration center in Austin, Texas, with launch customer Qantas Airways.
GE Aviation's accelerator in Washington DC launches.
GE Aviation announces its Aviation Asset Performance Management (APM) solution.
GE develops moldable plastic, a foundational technology in the advance of modern mass production.
GE introduces silicone for commercial use.
GE researchers achieve two laser breakthroughs that will have profound effects on manufacturing.
GE revolutionizes its manufacturing by adopting Six Sigma.
GE acquires 3D-printing pioneer Morris Technologies, whose sophisticated techniques allow the creation of lightweight, streamlined versions of complex items like fuel nozzles for jet engines.
GE introduces the Catalyst turboprop engine.
GE’s Distributed Power facility in Jenbach, Austria, is named Factory of the Year by the trade magazine Produktion.
GE's Elihu Thomson builds electrical equipment for the production of X-rays.
GE researcher William Coolidge develops the hot-cathode, high-vacuum X-ray tube.
Associate Director of GE Research Laboratory Irving Langmuir wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The world’s first commercial size exclusion chromatography resin, Sephadex, launches.
The first non-ionic X-ray contrast media is introduced.
The first routine total-body computed tomography (CT) scanner is made widely available.
The first high-field 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner is introduced.
The first commercial SPECT/CT combination designed as a single unit is introduced.
The first 4D high-res ultrasound system for women’s health enables visualization of fetal movement in utero.
The first single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging agent is released.
The world’s first modular biopharmaceutical facility, KUBio™, is opened.
The first NASA-style clinical hospital “command center” launches.
A mammography system featuring the world’s first patient-assisted compression remote control debuts.
Cell therapy enterprise offering launches with the acquisition of Asymptote Limited.
The first deep learning-based CT image reconstruction technology gains FDA clearance.
Thomas Edison and his researchers create a lightbulb filament that can incandesce for 1,200 hours.
GE Research Lab’s William Coolidge creates the tungsten filament.
Coolidge develops the first enclosed X-ray source, the inspiration for many X-ray devices that are used to determine the physical makeup of materials.
GE researcher Katharine Blodgett invents non-reflective glass.
Researchers from GE and RCA demonstrate the first commercial TEM (transmission electron microscope).
Synchrotron radiation is first demonstrated at General Electric Research Laboratory.
GE chemist Dr. Daniel Fox is the co-discoverer of polycarbonate resin.
GE researcher H. Tracy Hall creates the first synthetic diamonds.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon wearing boots made from silicon rubber developed by GE.
GE introduces the first jet engine to include components made of lightweight carbon fiber composites.
The LEAP jet engine is the first widely deployed product to feature ceramic matrix composites.