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William Coolidge: Vacuum Tube for X-Ray Production, 1926

Academia and Industry

From Leipzig—his Ph.D. in physics complete—Coolidge returned to teach in the new Physics Department at MIT, conducting research with Arthur A. Noyes, who would go on to become its president and a founder of the California Institute of Technology.

Just a dozen years earlier in 1892, the General Electric Company had been formed with Thomas Edison's company as a part of the original merger. Along with the business consolidation came the commitment to basic, applied industrial research that Edison had established in his Menlo Park installation. The General Electric Research Laboratory was built within the company plant in Schenectady, New York.

Willis Whitney spanned the sometimes conflicting worlds of academia and industry by dividing his time between academic research at MIT and industrial research and applications at General Electric Research Laboratory. Whitney recruited Coolidge in 1905 to join this expanding endeavor at General Electric, and Coolidge spent the rest of his career there.