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SUMMARY We use a newly developed data set of 39,343 high-value patents granted between 1877 and 1918 to demonstrate that technological progress during German industrialization occurred in at least four different technological waves. We distinguish the railway wave (1877-86), the dye wave (1887-96), the chemical wave (1897-1902), and the wave of electrical engineering (1903-18). Evidence is presented that inter-industry knowledge spillovers between technologically, economically, and geographically related industries were a major source for innovative activities during German industrialization. We also show that technological change affected the geographical distribution of innovative regions. Using an index of technologically revealed comparative advantage we find that regions that increased their innovativeness during the waves of technological progress revealed special strength in technological clusters like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or chemicals.