General Electric Company plc

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The General Electric Company or GEC was a major UK company involved in consumer and defence electronics, communications and engineering. The company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.[citation needed] It was renamed Marconi Corporation plc in 1999 after its defence arm was sold to British Aerospace. In 2005 Ericsson purchased the bulk of Marconi and the remaining businesses were renamed Telent.

Contents

History

Early years

GEC traces its origins to G. Binswanger and Company, an electrical goods wholesaler established in London during the 1880s by a German immigrant Gustav Binswanger (later Gustav Byng).[1] Regarded as the year GEC was founded, 1886 saw Byng joined by a fellow immigrant, Hugo Hirst, and the company changed its name to The General Electric Apparatus Company (G. Binswanger).[1]

This small business found early success with its unorthodox method of supplying electrical components over the counter. Hugo Hirst was an entrepreneurial salesman who foresaw the potential of electricity and was able to direct standardisation of an industry in its infancy. He travelled across Europe with an eye for the latest products and in 1887 the company published the first electrical catalogue of its kind.[1] The following year the company acquired its first factory in Salford where telephones, electric bells, ceiling roses and switches were manufactured.[1]

Incorporation

In 1889, the business was incorporated as a private company known as General Electric Company Ltd.[1] The company was expanding rapidly, opening new branches and factories and trading in 'Everything Electrical', a phrase that was to become synonymous with GEC. In 1893, GEC decided to invest in lamp manufacture. The resulting company, (to become Osram in 1909), was to lead the way in lamp design and the burgeoning demand for electric lighting was to make GEC's fortune. In 1900, GEC was incorporated as a public limited company, The General Electric Company (1900) Ltd, (the '1900' was dropped three years later).[1] In 1902, GEC's first purpose-built factory, the Witton Engineering Works was opened near Birmingham.

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