From Thomas Edison’s first commercially viable light bulb to the first x-ray machines, GE researchers have a history of redefining what’s possible. GE was there for the first walk on the moon; we created the first television broadcast, the first man-made diamond and the first jet engine.
But we didn’t stop there. Today, we’re building upon the past to drive innovation for the future. At GE Research, we have a relentless passion to find solutions for tomorrow’s problems, developing groundbreaking technologies that improve people’s lives and change the world. Building, powering, moving, curing. This is where we turn research into reality. This is GE Research.
Timeline of Innovation
Carbon Filament Incandescent Lamp
Edison invents the first commercially practical incandescent lamp.
Central Power Station
The Edison Electric Illuminating Company turns electricity into a commodity, constructing the first central power station in New York City.
World’s Largest Electric Locomotives
GE puts electricity to work on a large scale in 96-ton electric locomotives.
A rich tradition of GE breakthroughs in medical imaging begins with the demonstration of stereoscopic Roentgen pictures.
The First Voice Radio Broadcast
The world’s first voice radio broadcast is made possible by Ernst Frederick Werner Alexanderson’s high-frequency alternator. The pictured alternator, one of several designed by Alexanderson, was used to send transatlantic radio-telegraph messages from Long Island, New York.
The Ductile Tungsten Filament
Developed by William D. Coolidge, this material is still used in light bulbs today. During a visit to the GE Research Laboratory in 1914, Thomas A. Edison (left) met with Coolidge, who is shown explaining how tungsten is made ductile employing the apparatus in the foreground.
The First Hotpoint Range
GE improves life in the kitchen with the first electric range.
The Vacuum Tube
Drs. Irving Langmuir (left) and Willis R. Whitney examine an early model of GE’s high-vacuum pliotron tube. Improvements in vacuum tube design help make possible modern electronics and radio broadcasting.
Steinmetz Electric Car
Charles Steinmetz develops an electric vehicle, which is able to reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour, powered by 14 six-volt batteries.
Portable X-Ray Machine
GE develops a new X-ray machine suitable for dental and portable use.
GE Brings Television into the Home
The first home television reception takes place in Schenectady, NY with a signal from GE’s WGY.
A Nobel First: Irving Langmuir
Irving Langmuir becomes the first US industrial scientist to win the Nobel Prize, received for his research in the field of surface chemistry.
The Fluorescent Lamp
GE invents the first practical low-pressure discharge lamp to provide white light.
Katharine B. Blodgett invents non-reflecting, “invisible” glass, using a technique for transferring molecular films from liquid to glass surfaces. The glass becomes the prototype for coatings used today on virtually all camera lenses and optical devices, including prescription eyeglasses. Here, she is pictured working in her room at the GE Research Laboratory.
GE invents a new silicones chemistry, marking the start of the silicones business. Eugene G. Rochow is pictured with an apparatus used to produce the first basic silicones.
Entering the Jet Age
GE builds the first U.S. jet engine, the I-A, which is used the next year to power America’s first successful jet aircraft for military use, the Bell XP-59 Airacomet.
GE introduces what will become the world’s most-produced jet engine in history, the J47.
Daniel W. Fox makes discoveries that lead to the development of a transparent plastic of unsurpassed impact resistance.
GE Research Laboratory announces the invention of the first reproducible process for making industrial-use diamonds. One of the first batches of diamonds is shown in this photomicrograph.
Continuing to pioneer in the field of energy generation, GE opens the world’s first licensed nuclear power plant.
The laser light is invented, making possible many of today’s most popular technologies such as DVD players.
A Step on the Moon
GE supplies a variety of technologies for the first landing on the moon, including engineering support, test facilities, and the silicone for Neil Armstrong’s boots.
Powering Air Force One
GE moves into the civil market for high-bypass turbofan engines, making the CF6 the most popular engine family for wide-body aircraft, including Air Force One.
GE scientists develop the Signa Magnetic Resonance Imaging System, which produces images of “soft” tissues difficult to image by X-ray methods.
The Mars Observer
GE builds the Mars Observer for NASA, which will study Martian geology and climate while mapping the planet’s surface.
LightspeedTM CT Scanner
This scanner is the first to capture multiple images simultaneously and is six times faster than traditional single-slice scanners.
With more than 115,000 lbs. of thrust, the GE90-115B becomes the world’s most powerful commercial jet engine.
GE continues its focus on sustainable energy, entering the wind power business.
GE introduces the new fuel-efficient Evolution Series locomotives.
GE launches the UltraScanTM Duo, the first liquid pipeline inspection tool to utilize Phased Array Ultrasound Technology.
World’s First 24-Cylinder Gas Engine
The J624 Jenbacher high-speed gas engine technology produces more energy more efficiently, providing clean on-site power generation.
Vscan, a handheld, pocket-sized ultrasound technology, helps doctors deliver expanded care to more people, including in rural regions.
The WattStation charges electric vehicles at home or on the road, with an upgradable design that allows customers to stay current with the latest technology.
The next-generation jet engine with ceramic components and 3-D printed parts takes its first flight. The engine’s unique design and materials make it 15 percent more fuel efficient than comparable engines. It is also lighter, quieter, produces fewer emissions and is projected to save an airline as much as $1.6 million in fuel costs per plane per year.
GE is developing the next evolution of power devices with Silicon Carbide technology. These devices operate at higher frequencies and temperatures and set new standards in power efficiency.
HA Gas Turbine
The world’s largest and most efficient heavy-duty gas turbine, GE’s HA, is developed using Fastworks and the GE Store of technology. The turbine offers industry-leading operational flexibility and builds upon the legacy of jet engine technology pioneered at the GRC during the early 20th century.
GE combines its deep base of industrial knowledge with software to create digital models of physical assets and processes to deliver business outcomes for customers.