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Should the personal computer be considered a technological revolution? Evidence from US metropolitan areas

The introduction and diffusion of personal computers are widely viewed as a technological revolution. Using U.S. metropolitan area-level panel data, this paper asks whether links between PC adoption, educational attainment, and the return to skill conform to a model of technological revolutions in which the speed and extent of adoption are endogenous. The model implies that cities will adjust differently to the arrival of a more skill-intensive means of production, with the returns to skill increasing most where skill is abundant, and its return is low. We show that the cross-city data fit many of the predictions of the model during the period 1980-2000, the PC diffusion era.