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Until only recently economists have, partly from conviction, partly for convenience, regarded the growth of technological knowledge as a cause of economic growth which was, at the same time, itself largely independent of economic development. In a pioneering work, Jacob Schmookler investigates whether technological advance and invention are self-generating, or if inventions are inspired by specific demand. After compiling and analyzing a mass of new data painstakingly developed from U.S. patent records and the history of invention since 1800, he presents conclusions that have far-reaching implications for economic theory and social thought.