The last American light bulb: GE stops making its iconic bulb in the U.S.

GE and its products are part of the American iconography. Its founder was Thomas Edison, one of America's foremost thinkers, inventors, and tinkerers. His invention of the light bulb in 1876 marked the moment of GE's genesis. If you can say that light bulbs capture the spirit of American ingenuity, you can also say that GE's soul is encapsulated in that inverted pear-shaped, "A-line" light bulb. Generations of Americans see the GE logo, in their mind's eye, on the round base of a glowing light bulb.

On September 24, that classic American light bulb was switched off. Changing American preferences and looming government regulation resulted in the shuttering of the only remaining U.S. factory to make 100-watt A-line incandescent bulbs, in Winchester, Virginia. The bulbs are still being made in Monterrey, Mexico, but the empire of the classic incandescent light is in its decline. Over the past five years, says Kim Freeman of GE Appliances & Lighting, "the demand for these incandescent bulbs has declined by 50% -- and that's all customer preference."