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Established in 1900 by Thomas Edison, the General Electric Research Laboratory was home to many early scientific discoveries. The first major industrial research facility in the US, it followed the model of many American and European universities in that scientists were free to conduct experiments that may or may not have already demonstrated the potential for immediate profit. The first break-through occurred in 1908 when WIlliam Coolidge improved the light bulb by incorporating a different kind of filament that was more durable than previous models.

In addition to this facility, General Electric now operates research laboratories in India, China, and Germany.