GE Makes The Switch Away From Lightbulbs, Sells Business To Savant Systems GE was born when Thomas Edison's electrical company merged with a rival in 1892, and the company has been making (and inventing) lightbulbs ever since. Now it's selling off its lighting business.

GE No Longer Bringing Good Things To 'Light'

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The lightbulb defined General Electric for almost 130 years, but now the company is shedding that legacy by selling off its lighting business. NPR's Camila Domonoske reports.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: It was the original bright idea.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: On New Year's Eve 1879, extra trains brought excited spectators from New York City to Menlo Park, N.J. The crowds came to witness Thomas Edison's demonstration of incandescent light.

DOMONOSKE: Edison started a company to sell inventions like the lightbulb. That business merged with a rival to form General Electric, which kept making lightbulbs for more than a century. GE carried on Edison's tradition of experimentation. Halogen bulbs - GE patent. Compact fluorescents - GE invented them. LEDs - Nick Holonyak was working at GE in the 1960s when he figured out how to turn a crystal into a bright source of light.

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NICK HOLONYAK: It's hard to believe that a tiny little crystal - you tickle it with a current, and wham. It'll blind you.

DOMONOSKE: Over the course of many decades, General Electric went well beyond making generally electric products.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: GE Aviation...

GE Healthcare...

GE Oil and Gas...

GE Renewable Energy...

GE Digital...

DOMONOSKE: GE was a shining example of a successful massive conglomerate until it wasn't. In recent years, it's been shedding one business after another, and now lightbulbs have lost their luster, too. GE Lighting isn't going dark exactly. The brand will live on, but the bulbs won't be made by GE anymore. It's a switch that's expected to be finalized in the next few months. Camila Domonoske, NPR News.

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