It is common for over 50% of the heat input to high temperature industrial furnaces to be lost in the flue gases. Owing to high cost, complexity and service problems, recuperators to recover this heat have not been widely used in the past. During the 1960s the design of industrial gas burners improved considerably. So by the early 1970s it was feasible to develop a device that incorporated, in a single unit, the functions of a burner, flue and recuperator. This became known as the recuperative burner. The technical problems to be overcome to ensure reliable operation and durability of this device, when placed in a potentially corrosive environment at up to 1600 $^\circ$C, are considerable. In addition, the wide variety of furnace types and applications necessitated an extensive field trial and demonstration programme. The development also serves as a useful vehicle for illustrating the time scales and resources involved in steering an industrial development from the laboratory through to common use. The important stages and roles of the various parties can be identified and lessons about investment policy in energy saving equipment learnt.