Science fiction became science fact with the GE invention of LEDs and lasers, while over 6,000 GE employees helped put a man on the moon. Everything from atoms to the stars was under scientific scrutiny, yielding secrets of new and better ways to help us go about our business. From the rechargeable automatic toothbrush to nuclear power, science was exciting our minds and changing our lives.
Winning an Air Force contract for new supersonic interceptor aircraft, GE develops the J93, the first engine to operate at three times the speed of sound, powering the USAF experimental XB-70 bomber.
Continuing to pioneer in the field of energy generation, GE opens the world's first licensed nuclear power plant.
GE scientist Robert H. Wentorf, Jr. synthesizes Borazon — cubic boron nitride — a material not found in nature and second in hardness only to a diamond. Its potential use in materials processing is enhanced by its ability to remain hard at temperatures where even a diamond will burn.
In another first for the kitchen, GE introduces the automatic, electric can opener. Cooking is made even easier (while at the same time pets around the world immediately learn to recognize a new sound).
The GE tradition of lighting innovations and improvements continues with the invention of the halogen lamp, which provides crisp, pure white light in a small size.
On the threshold of manned space flight, GE's Discovery XIII is the first man-made object to be recovered from orbit around the earth. Built through GE's Missile and Space Vehicle Department, the experimental reentry vehicle, RVX-2A, was the largest vehicle recovered from outer space and provided the first color photographs of earth from altitudes of up to 700 miles. It completed 17 trips around the earth in 27 hours.
GE technology leads to more modern devices around the home and a suite of useful inventions. The use of a powerful, compact motor and rechargeable battery leads to the introduction of an automatic toothbrush and is the forerunner of the development of other handheld appliances such as hair dryers and an electric slicing knife.
A new application of existing materials leads to more efficient lighting. GE researchers discover a way to use ceramics to let light out while keeping heat in. The discovery of translucent ceramics made possible the Lucalox lamp, a highly efficient, long-lived source of illumination used outdoors and on the factory floor.
As the space age takes hold of the public imagination, GE increases its participation in the race to put a man on the moon by opening a space center at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
GE builds a superconducting magnet that breaks through the 100,000 gauss barrier, a level of magnetic field intensity that a few years earlier would have seemed unreachable. Technology emerging from this and other pioneering efforts of the era are crucial today to the modern medical diagnostic technique of magnetic resonance imaging.
GE scientist Bob Hall invents the solid state laser. This compact, efficient source of highly controlled light has made possible many of today's most popular technologies such as the compact disc player, the laser printer and modern fiber optic communications.
Innovations in the kitchen, while even more helpful, begin to grow more complex. The P-7 self-cleaning oven is introduced. In developing the oven, which uses a pyrolytic system to remove food soil, GE engineers are granted some 100 patents.
Improvements in X-ray technology help doctors see more while greatly reducing patient medical X-ray exposure. GE's Jacob G. Rabatin develops a high efficiency X-ray phosphor, the lanthanum oxybromide family of phosphors, making possible X-ray screens that can reduce patient exposure to one-quarter of previous levels.
Neil Armstrong takes the first step on the moon with boots made from GE silicone rubber. GE supplies overall quality control, systems engineering support, launch vehicle test facilities and the ship-to-satellite system that provides the first live color TV pictures of splash-down and recovery. When Apollo 11 lands Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the moon, 6000 GE employees have helped put them there.