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Retrospective experience curves are a useful tool for understanding historic technology development, and can contribute to investment program analysis and future cost estimation efforts. This work documents our development of an analysis approach for deriving retrospective experience curves with a variable learning rate, and its application to develop an experience curve for compact fluorescent lamps for the global and North American markets over the years 1990-2007. Uncertainties and assumptions involved in interpreting data for our experience curve development are discussed, including the processing and transformation of empirical data, the selection of system boundaries, and the identification of historical changes in the learning rate over the course of 15 years. In the results that follow, we find that that the learning rate has changed at least once from 1990-2007. We also explore if, and to what degree, public deployment programs may have contributed to an increased technology learning rate in North America. We observe correlations between the changes in the learning rate and the initiation of new policies, abrupt technological advances, including improvements to ballast technology, and economic and political events such as trade tariffs and electricity prices. Finally, we discuss how the findings of this work (1) support the use of segmented experience curves for retrospective and prospective analysis and (2) may imply that investments in technological research and development have contributed to a change in market adoption and penetration.