Special Guest Blog By Ken Kinlock

(Featured image above is Bob Wright. Long-time GE worker. First as a lawyer, best known as head of NBC, then a Vice-Chairman. Photo from

In our first installment of “What Happened to GE“, I talked about the April 1, 1981 change from the “Old GE” to the “New GE”. In the next installment, I talked about the major event of the Century, the RCA Acquisition.

Now I would like to refer to an important comment in the first blog: “At the start of the 1970’s, 80 percent of earnings came from traditional businesses in the electrical & electronic goods manufactured area. These businesses are all healthy, but end of 1980 they provided less than half of earnings. The remainder came from growth businesses in man-made materials, natural resources, aerospace, transportation equipment, and services”: WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THESE BUSINESSES?

I am going to refer first to Bob Wright. In 1969, about six months after he earned his bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Virginia. He took a staff job at the power transformer plant in Pittsfield, Mass. His reaction: “Everyone had their head down, going about their business. I was just a cog in a huge machine.” Rather than turn him off, it fueled his drive: “I realized I was going to have to push hard and do it on my own, and that is fundamentally where I got into that mode.”

In 1970, he left GE and accepted a clerkship with a federal judge. He returned to GE in 1973, mostly for the opportunity to work with his mentor, Jack Welch. In 1979, Welch appointed Wright to a “job” that ultimately would change his life. GE was about to acquire Cox Broadcasting and sent Wright down to that company’s Atlanta headquarters to head the operation. But the deal fell through.

“My name wasn’t Cox,” he said. So when Welch wanted him to come back and head the housewares and audio electronics business, Wright returned to GE again. There, Wright was asked to offer an appraisal of the unit he was supposed to lead.

“Jack said to me: I need your honest opinion about the business. I came back to him and said you have every reason to be nervous. We put our best products out there and in three weeks they all become promotional items. We’re never going to make a lot of money and all our science” — research designing new products — “is going down the drain.”

Housewares & Audio, Major Appliances and Lighting were impacted in the same way.

Welch saw the wisdom of Wright’s analysis — he ultimately sold those units — and rewarded him with a plum assignment — head of GE Financial Services, a job he held until 1986 when GE purchased RCA and Wright was named CEO of RCA’s NBC subsidiary.






The World of Sci-fi during WWII – Intermission Story (29)

Pacific Paratrooper

The goings-on at the home front!!

The first Golden Age of Science Fiction—often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946—was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the “pulp era” of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme.

One leading influence on the creation of the Golden age was John W. Campbell, who became legendary in the genre as an editor and publisher of science fiction magazines, including Astounding Science Fiction, to the point where Isaac Asimov stated that “…in the 1940s, (Campbell) dominated the field to the point where to many seemed all of science fiction.” Under Campbell’s editorship, science fiction developed more realism and psychological depth to characterization. The focus shifted from the gizmo itself…

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MTA subway elevators break down at alarming rate, advocates say


Some of the MTA’s worst-performing subway station elevators are brand new.
Three of the 15 elevators with the most outages this year are less than a year old, according to the agency’s most recent data. An elevator installed at the Lexington Ave-63rd Street station — part of the Second Avenue subway project — ranked sixth-worst for availability across the MTA’s 247 elevators over the course of this year.
In the third quarter alone, that elevator trapped commuters inside during breakdowns on seven occasions between July 20 and Sept 26. That’s a tie with an elevator on the 2 and 3 trains at 233rd Street in the Bronx and another at the 191st Street 1 train station for the most across the entire subway system during that period.
Across a subway system where only about 23 percent of stations are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocates charge that the frequently broken down elevators are an example of the MTA’s neglect of the needs of commuters with disabilities.
“While the MTA likes to use aging infrastructure as an excuse for its failures, they can’t in this case,” said Mel Plaut, a program analyst at the transportation advocacy group TransitCenter. “These are brand new elevators and they should be performing better.”
For commuters with disabilities, coming across a broken elevator at the start of the trip could mean having to turn back home. If they encounter a broken elevator during the course of a journey, it could mean tacking on hours to their commutes through circuitous routes in search of an alternate accessible station, Plaut said.
“If you can imagine trying to go into a subway station without knowing if it’s opened or closed, that’s the equivalent for riders who rely on elevators,” she continued. “It’s indicative of neglect and almost downright hostility to people who require vertical access to use the subway.”
MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said that it’s “common” for new elevator equipment to fail. He noted that the MTA’s current $32 billion capital plan allocates $1.4 billion for elevators and escalators and that the agency has several strategies to reduce elevator downtime.
“It’s common for brand new equipment to need adjustments and repairs after first being installed,” Tarek said in a statement. “In the case of these elevators, the work has been completed and they operated between 97 and 99 percent of the time during the month of October.”
All subway elevators, though, were in operation and accessible to the public on average 96 percent of the time in the third quarter — falling short of the agency’s target of 96.5 percent, MTA data show. But even the 96.5 percent target translates to two weeks of elevator outages a year for each unit.
So far in 2017, the Lexington Ave-63rd Street station has been available 82 percent of the time. It experienced 27 outages in the third quarter — only four of which were planned-for maintenance. The breakdowns that led to entrapments were caused by a variety of mechanical issues involving doors and other components.
Along with subway and bus service declines, accessibility has been a key talking point among advocates, elected officials and members of the MTA’s board. It’s a pivotal time, they say. The MTA is currently working to finish adding ADA access to the final 100 “key stations,” part of a 1994 settlement that exempted the MTA from full compliance with the ADA — but the agency hasn’t yet outlined a detailed vision for its next steps.
In a report published by TransitCenter earlier this year, the group urged the agency to take a sharper focus on elevator maintenance and hold itself to a higher standard.
MTA board member Carl Weisbrod suggested at a Monday board meeting that the agency spend money allocated for its station renovation program, the Enhanced Station Initiative, on elevator installations instead. Another, Veronica Vanterpool, said she wanted detailed information on the agency’s goals.
“I fully understand and agree that all of our stations are not going to be ADA compliant but what is our plan to get as many of them [as possible] fully compliant?” she asked MTA chairman Joe Lhota, who then promised to bring a plan to either the agency’s next board meeting in December or in January.

Musk’s ‘verbal’ approval for hyperloop may have been miscommunication

‘As I said to Elon after, I think what you heard was ‘verbal government excitement.”

Remember back in July, when Elon Musk took to Twitter (what else?) to announce he’d received “verbal govt approval” for his Boring Co. to dig an underground hyperloop tunnel between New York and Washington D.C., with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore?

In typical Musk fashion, the business mogul never revealed who exactly granted him such quick approval for what presumably would be a pretty complicated and time-consuming series of permit applications, site-plan reviews and other regulatory hurdles. Now, Recode writes the “approval” may have come from one of President Trump’s top technology advisors — but it wasn’t exactly an official OK.

“I think that I was the culprit,” Reed Cordish, the tech advisor to the president, told Recode. “As I said to Elon after, I think what you heard was ‘verbal government excitement.'”

Cornish is a partner in the Baltimore-based development firm Cordish Cos. He’s a member of the president’s Office of American Innovation, which aims to borrow private-sector ideas for some of the federal government’s most stubborn problems, and he’s considered one of the wealthiest members of the president’s inner circle. He reports to senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, a longtime friend and Trump’s son-in-law.

As such, he has a front-row seat to the president’s plans for upgrading U.S. transportation infrastructure, and he divulged some of it to Recode. They include offering $200 billion in new government funds, plus a push to lessen government regulation so that projects like the hyperloop and Musk’s Boring Co. can move forward.

Cornish told Recode he’s been talking to Musk “every day” about the Boring Co. “In essence, we’ve had the same technology for tunneling, it hasn’t changed in the last 50 years,” he said. “And what Elon has done is he’s challenged his best engineers to reimagine that approach.”

Musk, of course, famously quit his position as a White House advisor earlier this year over Trump’s position on climate change and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accord. But it appears he still maintains at least one line of influence with the commander-in-chief.


Special Guest Blog By Ken Kinlock

(Featured image above is the RCA Building, became GE Building, 1932 but timeless. Photo from NYC-Architecture)

In our Part 1, we covered the hand over on April 1, 1981 from Reg Jones to Jack Welch.

In my original plan, I was going to cover the remainding period of Jack Welch’s administration, but the middle of the 1980’s we have the GE purchase of RCA. The most important project of Jack’s administration.

The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919. It was initially a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric (GE); however, in 1932 GE was required to divest its control as part of the settlement of an antitrust suit.

At its height as an independent company RCA was the dominant communications firm in the United States. Beginning in the 1920s it was a major manufacturer of radio receivers, and also developed the first national radio network, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). It had a leading role in the introduction of black-and-white television in the 1940s and 1950s, and color television in the 1950s and 1960s. During this time the company was closely identified with the leadership of David Sarnoff, who was general manager at its founding, became company president in 1930, and remained active, as chairman of the board, until the end of 1969.

By 1921, GE owned 30.1% of RCA’s stock, Westinghouse 20.6%, AT&T 10.3%, and United Fruit Company 4.1%, with the remaining 34.9% owned by individual shareholders.

Even in the 1960’s, GE had a full-time person billing RCA (or “The Radio Corporation” as it was called by employees over 50) for licensing fees.

In the 1970s RCA began to falter, suffering major losses in the mainframe computer industry and other failed projects such as the CED videodisc. In 1986 it was reacquired by General Electric, which over the next few years liquidated most of RCA’s assets. The RCA trademarks are currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Technicolor.

Before 1986, RCA was nicknamed “Rugs, Chickens & Automobiles”. It was even into “RCA-Whirlpool” appliances. But the MAJOR ASSET of this “conglomerate” was NBC. Government went after NBC for being “too big”. Split it into “RED” and “BLUE” Networks. BLUE Network became ABC.

RCA Trademark “NIPPER” in Albany, New York. (Photo from Roadside America)

So how did GE handle this acquisition? First thing was to write a check to RCA. $6.2 billion dollars! (I actually saw this check)! Then Bob Nelson and David Cote, from GE Corporate Financial Analysis formed a BIG team to figure it out. (Cote was considered as replacement for Jack Welch, but went on to run Honeywell). I was on this team…..sort of a “gopher”.

What we did was simple (until you sat down to do it). Create a “dummy” corporation for each RCA asset. When you sold asset, you liquidated it!

Everything got sold except NBC. That did not go until 2009 to a “cable service provider” called COMCAST

GE moves into RCA Building, changes name to GE Building.

Bob Wright and NBC

When Comcast bought NBC, they paid $6.2 billion; same as GE paid for RCA!