There are a number of technologies to consider that took a while between initial development and significant returns. One that comes to mind is the electric car. The concept of electrically propelled vehicles has been around since the 1830s, but with limited battery technology and with the profusion of gas-powered vehicles, electric cars did not reach any significant popularity. In the latter part of the twentieth century, there were efforts to revive the electric car. In the 1990s, several large auto manufacturers made electric models. However, these cars were soon withdrawn from most markets, as demand never rose high enough to make their production profitable. The situation today is very different. Electric cars are made by many auto manufacturers and are sold in many markets. Improvements in battery technology and a higher demand for eco-friendly vehicles mean that this technology is likely here to stay.
Internet technologies are another example. Digital networks like the internet have existed, at least in concept, since the 1960s. Household internet that we might recognize today did not really come into existence until the 1990s. Many saw it as a passing fad and few invested in this technology at the time. Internet usage was slow to catch on. In 2003, less than half of American households had an internet connection. Today, the internet is ubiquitous. It can be accessed both by computers and hand-held smartphones. Such a significant amount of the economy is now based on internet technologies that it would be hard to imagine life without it.