Actually, I do think it's a bad thing. You might know the old saying "applied research brings improvements, but basic research brings revolutions".
I've never heard that saying. Google doesn't seem to be able to find it either.
My pet example of this is lasers. The theoretic foundation for lasers was done somewhere around 1920. Long, long before materials were ready for it. Only in the 1960s the first lasers came into existence, huge, expensive pieces of technology that relied on very expensive crystals to work. Only in the 1980s we started to be able to build cheaper lasers, and it took another ten years before they became mainstream in our consumer electronics.
Your example is fantastic, however, because it clearly highlights the OP's point. It took 40 years to engineer the laser after it was theoretically conceptualized. It then took another 40 years to reduce it to a commonplace piece of technology. That's two scientific lifetimes.
My view is that most early discoveries (1800-1900's) were more a result of the development of the scientific method, which allowed a clear methodology to test hypotheses. Later discoveries (1950's) have tracked with technology development, like electricity, vacuum tubes, nuclear physics capabilities, lasers and computers.
We've currently reached a point now where technological development has stagnated relative to the rapid rates previously. Scientists are effectively using the same equipment they had 10-20 years ago, it's smaller, bit faster, but not much better. Additionally, most new physical theories require more than three or four dimensions, which is outside most scientists intuitive range.
If you want to get back to the rapid discovery rates that we have previously enjoyed, we're going to need to develop some groundbreaking technology, be it unlimited energy, computers that are actually more intelligent than us (not just faster), or some sort of evolution of the human brain to open up a new level of human scientific comprehension. And even with all that, people are still going to have to teach themselves an increasing amount of scientific history to catch up to the present, before they can contribute to new developments.