A student of Ludwig von Mises at the University of Vienna, Fritz Machlup was the Walker professor of international finance and director of the International Finance Section at Princeton University from 1960 to 1971. He was a distinguished economist who helped define the "information society" we now take for granted.

His work on knowledge theory was developed in several books, including the landmark multi-volume Knowledge: Its Creation, Distribution and Economic Significance (1980, 1982, and 1983). Modern business theory and economics owes a great deal to the legacy of Machlup, who was the first to use the now-common terms "knowledge community" and "knowledge economics".