NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

'Schemes of Practical Utility': Entrepreneurship and Innovation Among 'Great Inventors' in the United States, 1790-1865

B. Zorina Khan, Kenneth L. Sokoloff

NBER Historical Working Paper No. 42
Issued in October 1992
NBER Program(s):   DAE

The growth in inventive activity during early American industrialization is explored by examining the careers of 160 inventors credited with important technological discoveries. Analysis of biographical information and complete patent histories through 1865 indicates that these 'great inventors' were entrepreneurial and responded systematically to market demand. Their inventions were procyclical and originated disproportionately from localities linked with extensive markets. Although not exceptional in terms of schooling or technical skills, they vigorously pursued the returns to their inventions, redirected their inventive activity to meet emerging needs, and were distinguished by high geographical mobility towards districts conducive to invention.

download in pdf format
   (1165 K)

download in djvu format
   (252 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (1165 K) or DjVu (252 K) (Download viewer) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/h0042

Published: Journal of Economic History, vo. 53, no. 2, pp. 289-307

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Sokoloff and Khan h0010 The Democratization of Invention During Early Industrialization: Evidence from the United States, 1790-1846
Khan and Sokoloff w10966 Institutions and Technological Innovation During the Early Economic Growth: Evidence from the Great Inventors of the United States, 1790-1930
Lamoreaux and Sokoloff h0098 Inventors, Firms, and the Market for Technology in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Barro and Sala-i-Martin w5151 Technological Diffusion, Convergence, and Growth
Lamoreaux and Sokoloff Inventors, Firms, and the Market for Technology in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us