Inventions from GE Schenectady, NY
Click on links to learn about each invention if links are listed.


Red - Power Generation _____ Grey - communications ____ Light pink - materials or chemistry invention _____ Pink - Superconductivity  

Improved Dynamos

1887 and onward

Edison established the Edison Machine Works in 1887 on Erie Blvd. in old building 31, they worked improving dynamos there and supplied power to State Street for arc lamps

Better AC Power Generators

1892 - and onward

Elihu Thomson and C.P. Steinmetz lead GE's efforts to build the world's largest generators. The first AC generator for industrial use is installed in Colombia Mills, South Carolina. Shortly after came the power stations at Redlands California 1893, Folsom, CA 1896(see photos), and Mechanicville, NY 1897

The X-ray Machine

Elihu Thomson builds electrical equipment for making X-Rays

First Lab devoted completely to scientific research

GE Research Lab is established at the suggestion by C.P Steinmetz. His first concern was to study lighting in response to German competitive advances in incandescent light bulbs.

The Large Steam Turbine
1896 patent 1903 built

5000 kilowatt steam turbine is designed by Charles Gordon Curtis, he came to Schenectady to sell his idea, GE approved and he built the unit in the downtown plant in 1903, used by Chicago Edison Co.

Gas Turbine

Charles Curtis patents the gas turbine in the USA, he develops the gas turbine at GE afterwards.

Trans-Atlantic voice broadcast

Ernst Alexanderson builts powerful radio wave generators that are used for the first Trans-Atlantic voice broadcast.

Ductile Tungsten Filament for Lightbulbs

William D. Coolidge develops the ductile tungsten filament which makes lightbulbs far more efficient and longer lasting. (This is still used today)

The Electric Range

The Hotpoint is the first electric range developed and sold

Various Vacuum Tubes

Irving Langmuir further develops the ideas of Lee De Forest. Langmuir develops many new designs for various uses of the Vacuum tube.

X-ray Tube

W. D. Coolidge invents a high vacuum x-ray tube with great image resolution and greater output than ever before

Low Cost Refrigeration

Christian Steenstrup develops a sealed refrigeration system which is sold to the consumer as the "monitor top" refrigerator. This technology continues today.


Christian Steenstrup develops a ceramic heating device which is used in stoves, and various home applications

The Magnetron
(the main part of the Microwave Oven)


Albert Hull invents the magnetron, used later in radar, microwave ovens, radio transmission, and more...

Trans-oceanic Radio System

Ernst Alexanderson develops the 200Kw 25,000 cycle alternator.

Portable X-ray Machine

Weighing only 20 pounds this system uses an oil-immersed X-ray tube

The Loudspeaker (modern audio speaker)


C. W. Rice and E. W. Kellogg invent the first hornless loudspeaker. It is the first powerful speaker invented and allows talking films possible later on. It is first used in theaters to project sound. In uses the dynamic coil... read more here

First Multi-continental Radio Station - WGY

WGY reaches audiences as far as South Africa with live radio shows for entertainment. WGY's roots go back earlier, but 1922 was the year the federal government required the station to officially register for a license.

Hydrogen-cooled Condenser

Chester W. Rice develops the use of hydrogen in condensers and turbines. Using hydrogen instead of air inside the devices reduces friction and heat loss.

Television Transmission


Ernst Alexanderson transmits TV on a carrier of WGY to homes in Schenectady.

Electric Washing Machine
1930 I
Various Silicones

Eugene George Rochow begins the GE Silicone project at the GE Research Lab in 1938. Many products resulted from his work including silicone resins, greases, liquids, and elastomers. A production facility was set up in Waterford, NY in 1947.

Invisible Glass

nvented by Katharine Burr Blodgett, it is a non-reflective coating which is used on lenses and eyeglasses today

Small Kitchen Appliances

Numerous inventions including the Juice-o-Mat, Hotpoint automatic roaster, and more


Lexan plastic, clear like glass, yet durable enough to stop bullets. It was used for the astronaut bubble helmets.


There are many more!



Nuclear Bomb (shared with Oak Ridge, TN, Los Alamos, NM)

Engineers from Schenectady were sent down to Oak Ridge to help develop the bomb. Also some personnel were sent from around the country to the Knolls Atomic Power Lab outside of Schenectady. Secret locations in Glenville in rural areas were used for some small experiments and meetings for the Manhattan Project.

First Television Network

WRGB in Schenectady relays tv programs to New York City

Radar targeting gun turrets

Ted Brown and Hal Chestnut develop the fire control computer in the B-29 which allows the machine gun turrets to fire at moving fighter plane targets using radar guidance.

Cloud Seeding

Vincent Schaefer and Irving Langmuir develop cloud seeding (inducing clouds to make rain). This starts more research on atmospheric science.

First Missle Guidance System

Project Hermes 1944-1954 and Project Vangaurd develop test missiles using automated guidance and gyro systems.

Alloyed P-N junctions

Robert N. Hall discovers that indium and germanium can be used in P-N Junctions-basic element in power rectifiers and some transistors.

NORYL Plastic Resin

NORYL resine is invented by Allan S. Hay at the GE Research Lab. NORYL is a plastic widely used in engineering that has great strength at high temperatures.

Synthetic Diamond
High Powered Magnet
100,000 Gauss

The GE magnet team build the world's strongest magnet using superconductors. They use a special wound coil. They achieve a magnetic density of 100,000 gauss (10T) See our video about the story > The GE team consisted of Carl H. Rosner, Charlie Bean, Mark Benz, Garry Morrow, and Howard Hart


Robert N. Hall of the GE research lab invents the semiconductor laser, the main form of laser used in thousands of applications

A better MRI

Carl H. Rosner, Garry Morrow, and Paul Swartz and the Intermagnetics General team invent an MRI that produces a more accurate image. It becomes the standard coil used around the world.

First Mobile MRI

John Heinrich, Garry Morrow, and team at Intermagnetics General produce the world's first mobile MRI unit which is placed in a tractor trailer. This helps several hospitals share the costs of one MRI.


Ivar Giaever of Niskayuna builds a device that proves the existance of Quantum Tunneling. This discovery wins him the Nobel Prize in Physics

Polypropylene Capacitor

GE Capacitor Division led by Oliver H. Winn work with the GE Research lab to develop a capacitor that is 3x more efficient than previously using polypropylene film between foil layers. The product is produced in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, NY


Dr. Andrew Burke and team develop a computer-controlled hybrid car. This is part of the Joint Feasibiltiy Study of the Hyrbrid Vehicle. When GE cannot sell the car to the big 3 automakers, they sell the technology. Toyota later makes it into a profitable technology.

The hybrid car goes back to the 1916 Owen Magnetic car. In the 1980's computers became powerful and compact enough to be used to control the car's engine and breaking. The computer made it a practical and energy saving invention.

We are currently making a video about this subject, it will be posted at when completed.



Sources for this Information:

Men and Volts - The story of General Electric - John Hammond 1941
General Electric Website
The Life of Steinmetz by Leonard
Workshop of Engineers by Miller
The General Electric Story - A Hall of History Publication
Interview with Robert N. Hall - video by the Edison Tech Center

Interview with Dr. Andy Burke- video by the Edison Tech Center
Interview with Carl H. Rosner- video by the Edison Tech Center
Interview with Dr. Howard Hart- video by the Edison Tech Center
Interview with Paul Swartz- video by the Edison Tech Center
Interview with Garry Morrow- video by the Edison Tech Center

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