Scientific breakthroughs often have a fascinating back story. Almost always it turns out that innovation is a process that takes decades before the final success.
I like to keep track of these stories to combat those who think innovation is dead. For example, Peter Thiel argues that innovation stalled in the 1970's. This is wrong: it's just that later innovations haven't yet broken through.
Some cases in point:
Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1905 for his work on the photovoltaic effect. Today, more than one hundred years later, we are finally achieving significant solar power.
If anything, the fact that our latest innovations are from the 1970's, only 40 years ago, shows that the pace of innovation is accelerating.