The origin of the General Electric Company goes back all the way to the inventor of the lightbulb himself, Thomas Edison. Edison started the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878, later renaming it the Edison General Electric Company. He merged with long-time rivals, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company, to form the General Electric Company, the name that would last for over a century. Edison sold all of his shares of the company in 1894, but stayed on board as a consultant.
At the dawn of the 20th Century, GE established the first industrial laboratory in the United States, which it had converted from an old barn. In 1906, GE introduced its first major appliance, an electric range. With its success, GE began acquiring and merging with other electrical companies to further build its resources.
Together with AT&T and Westinghouse, they formed RCA, the Radio Corporation of America in 1919 in order to develop radio technology. Just ten years later, GE sold its holdings due to antitrust considerations. RCA grew to produce a wide variety of consumer electronics and equipment for decades before being re-acquired by GE in the mid-1980s. GE sought RCA in order to gain control over the NBC television network and sold off the remaining parts of RCA to various other companies. Shortly thereafter, RCA suffered a plummet in fortune and was all but dissolved by the turn of the 21st Century.
In the 1950s, the company moved into nuclear energy, producing nuclear reactors for US military submarines and received license to build its first nuclear power plant. Since then, GE has often come under fire for its poor environmental record. Theyâ€™ve been accused of being a major contributor to the large-scale creation of toxic waste as has been listed by the Political Economy Research Institute as the fourth-largest corporate producer of air pollution. In May of 2005, GE hoped to combat their poor environmental reputation by launching its "Ecomagination" program, designed to develop more environmentally safe energy solutions.
GE has grown to be the fourth most recognized brand name in the world. In 2004, the company was ranked as the #1 company for employers and employees on the Forbes 500 Global Player list.
GE produces many types of home water filtration products under the GE SmartWater brand. Many Hotpoint, Culligan, and Kenmore refrigerators with water and ice dispensers use GE refrigerator water filter cartridges. GE also makes inline water filters that can be used on any refrigerator that has 1/4in tubing.