The paper addresses two issues. One concerns the general conditions and procedures involved in the emergence of a tool industry. Tool industries emerge and evolve as a collection of capital goods and tool inventors and manufacturers. One of our goals is to use some of the works on historical cases to build a heuristic framework concerning the main conditions for the emergence and development of tool industries. The other issue is more factual and involves the question whether a tool industry is today emerging in the area of education. The paper describes the emergence of a population of firms specialised in developing and commercialising educational tools and instructional technologies and discuss whether this trend can be seen as part of the solution to the innovation deficit and cost disease problems in this sector? (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.