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

B. Zorina Khan and Kenneth L. Sokoloff
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Jun., 1993), pp. 289-307
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2122995
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
"Schemes of Practical Utility": Entrepreneurship and Innovation Among "Great Inventors" in the United States, 1790-1865
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Abstract

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 unexceptional 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 toward districts conducive to invention and its commercialization.

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