His death was announced by his wife, Suzy.
Welch, who joined GE in 1960, became its youngest chairman and CEO in 1981 at age 45. During his tenure at GE, the company's value rose from $12 billion in 1981 to $410 billion when he retired in 2001.
In his 2001 book, "Jack: Straight From the Gut," he wrote that during his first five years as chief, GE's workforce dropped to 299,000 from 411,000. His job-cutting effort earned him the nickname "Neutron Jack."
One of his primary leadership directives was that GE had to be No. 1 or No. 2 in the industries it participated in.
Welch bought and sold many companies during his tenure and expanded the company into financial services and consulting. He acquired RCA, which owned NBC at the time.
Welch was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 1999.
He remained active for more than a decade as a consultant and media commentator
The Boston company struggled in the years after Welch's departure and eventually had to sell NBCUniversal.
On Monday, JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa, a longtime critic of General Electric's prospects, raised his price target on the improving industrial giant to $8 a share from $5. He boosted his rating to neutral from underweight amid a six-month rally that has added more than 30% to the company's market value.
Prior to last week's broad-market selloff, GE shares were trading at the highest levels in nearly a year, supported in part by stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.
GE said its 2020 industrial profit and cash flow will improve notably this year via a turnaround effort under CEO Larry Culp.