The news that General Electric Co. (GE) is getting dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average is less dramatic than the buzz about Apple Inc. getting within spitting distance of a trillion dollar market value—but it nevertheless should be seen as the last nail in the coffin on 20th century industrialism.

GE was one of the members of the original Dow Jones index developed in 1896. It has been in the US stock market index uninterrupted since 1907. Even the business gurus who speak of radical disruption have doffed their hats at GE as one of the rare companies that continued to adapt. The company is still strong at No. 18 in the Fortune 500 list, and could yet make a comeback in the stock market barometer once current investing fashions change. But the very fact that it has been edged out shows that investors now see more value in new-generation businesses.

The house that Thomas Edison built more than a century ago and that Jack Welch dominated more recently has its task cut out in the 21st century.

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