General Electric Company, or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. The company operates through four segments: Energy, Technology Infrastructure, Capital Finance and Consumer & Industrial.
GE was one of the eight major computer companies through all of the 1960s — with IBM, the largest, called "Snow White" followed by the "Seven Dwarfs": Burroughs, NCR, Control Data Corporation, Honeywell, RCA, UNIVAC and GE.
GE had an extensive line of general purpose and special purpose computers. Among them were the GE 200, GE 400, and GE 600 series general purpose computers, the GE 4010, GE 4020, and GE 4060 real time process control computers, the Datanet 30 and Datanet 355 message switching computers (Datanet 30 and 355 were also used as front end processors for GE mainframe computers). A Datanet 500 computer was designed, but never sold.
In 1962, GE started developing its GECOS (later renamed GCOS) operating system, originally for batch processing, but later extended to timesharing and transaction processing. Versions of GCOS are still in use today.
In 1964–1969, GE and Bell Laboratories (which soon dropped out) joined with MIT to develop the pioneering and influential Multics operating system on the GE 645 mainframe computer. The project took longer than expected and was not a major commercial success, but it demonstrated important concepts such as single level store, dynamic linking, hierarchical file system, and ring-oriented security. Active development of Multics continued until 1985.
It has been said[by whom?] that GE got into computer manufacturing because in the 1950s they were the largest user of computers outside of the United States federal government. However, in 1970, GE sold its computer division to Honeywell, exiting the computer manufacturing industry, though it retained its timesharing operations for some years afterwards. GE was a major provider of computer timesharing services, through General Electric Information Services (GEIS, now GXS), offering online computing services that included GEnie.