It's unfortunate that our culture is so obsessed with the magical afflatus that crashes into some haggard inventor, and after facing the standard array of road-blocks and obstacles, succeeds as justice dictates he should. This idea that the inventor is what is important, and that he/she deserves success is just plain stupid. Unfortunately, our patent system is built around that idea.
What should be exalted is the discovery of how to use the invention. This aspect of the scenario is never discussed in the fables of invention. In those stories, the application is already widely known and the haggard inventor's creation is somehow an immediately accepted Godsend to all it touches. See Flash of Genius.
Reality is much more complex, and in most cases, the most difficult aspect is taking whatever was created and figuring out what the fuck to do with it. The computer had been around for years before Apple, but it was the innovation of the package and software that created the digital age.
Techdirt is an utterly fantastic blog discussing the nature of innovation, invention, and technology. It's also a great blog to read if you'd like a crash-course in applied economics and patent/copyright law. UPS has sponsored a series of short videos discussing technology and innovation, they'll take up less than ten minutes of your life and will hopefully inform and entertain.