General Electric, a formidable software provider

The General Electric (GE) Company is in hot water with investors lately due to slow or no growth in its stock. Consumer electronics and software are two of the key product lines. Its computing history dates back to 1960s when it became one of the major computer companies. Other major players at the time included IBM, Burroughs, NCR, Control Data Corporation, Honeywell, RCA and UNIVAC.

GE started with lines of general and special purpose computers that included series of GE 200 to GE 600 general computers, GE 4000 series real time processors, DATANET series and others. In 1962, it started its GECOS (GCOS) operating systems for batch processing and later for timesharing and transaction processing. Some of these systems are still in operation with modifications. Later in 1960s it collaborated with Bell Labs and MIT to develop a mainframe computer without much commercial success. One reason why GE got into computers is that it was the largest user of computers at the time behind the U.S. government. It was a major provider of computer timesharing in 1970s. In late 1970s it sold its computer manufacturing business to Honeywell and exited computer manufacturing. Today under its GE Home & Business Solutions subsidiary it provides software to many businesses.