General Electric Company Limited 1889 - 2006

London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Formed from the General Electric Apparatus Company in 1889, the General Electric Company Limited, also known as GEC, was a manufacturer of defence electronics and consumer electronics, and was involved in communications and engineering.

The company started from humble beginnings but from the early 1900s and the development of their first purpose-built factories, they started to grow. During the First World War, GEC established itself as a major electronics company through being heavily involved in the war effort. They produced radios, signal lamps, and the arc-lamp carbons used in searchlights. During the 1920s, the company was heavily involved in establishing the National Grid across the UK, and during the Second World War, they continued to be a major supplier of electrical and engineering products to the military.

The 1960s saw further expansion in the company. They acquired AEI (Associated Electrical Industries) and RAI (Radio and Allied Industries) in this period, and also merged with English Electric which incorporated Elliott Brothers, the Marconi Company, Ruston and Hornsby, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, the Vulcan Foundry, Willans and Robinson, and Dick, Kerr and Co. The company continued to expand in 1979 with the acquisition of W & T Avery, and in 1981 with the acquisition of Cincinnati Electronics (CE) and the Picker Corporation. Further acquisitions and mergers took place in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, during the mid 1990s, following the appointment of a new managing director and the failure of the US acquisitions made in this period, GEC began to make a loss and found itself heavily in debt. At the end of the 1990s, GEC was attempting to find merger partners and in 1999, the company's Marconi Electronic systems was acquired by British Aerospace which formed BAE Systems.

Following this, what was left of the company was renamed to Marconi Communications which focused on telecommunications equipment. However, this was relatively short-lived as, following the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2001, the Marconi Communications share price dropped by 54%. The company continued on for a few more years before the majority of the company was sold to Ericsson in 2005 with the remainder called Telent plc. The company folded voluntarily in 2006.