"A Light Bulb in Every House" The Istanbul General Electric Factory and American Technology Transfer to Turkey

TUNÇ T. E., Tunc G.

TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE, vol.63, no.3, pp.749-774, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 63 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1353/tech.2022.0108
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, L'Année philologique, ABI/INFORM, American History and Life, Applied Science & Technology Source, ATLA Religion Database, Communication Abstracts, Computer & Applied Sciences, EMBASE, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, International Bibliography of Art, MEDLINE, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.749-774
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


In 1946, Turkish entrepreneur Vehbi Koc signed an agreement with the U.S. firm General Electric to build and operate its first light bulb factory in the Near/Middle East, in Istanbul. This private joint venture introduced new manufacturing techniques, business practices, and consumer habits to Turkey, opening channels of postwar technological exchange. Closer examination of the GE-Koc partnership reveals that during the early Cold War, the transfer and embedding of American technologies in Turkey was a politically complicated process of innovation that required constant adaptation. Fraught with unforeseeable obstacles, it also required cautious negotiation with multiple transnational actors. The story of the GE-Koc partnership thus adds a new dimension to historical understandings of the Turkish Cold War experience and the Americanization of the region. It illustrates how transferring a nonmilitary, soft-power, domestic technologythe light bulb-played a significant role in Turkish-American relations and therefore contributes to studies of U.S. Cold War diplomacy through transnational investment in innovation.