Hey Dan, some of us were there. I was at Sybase when General Magic came calling and was fortunate enough to meet some of the key folk. They were obviously very clever but appeared to believe their intelligence alone could overcome significant problems such as lack of bandwidth and computational latency. The naive questions I asked were enough to reveal they’d given zero thought to actual market entry, gaining users, price elasticity, critical partnerships, etc. But as you say, their core ideas went on to create the technologies we have today.
Sadly, today’s technologists aren’t dreaming big. They’re content to find slicker ways to push unwanted ads, easier interfaces for trivial apps, and are all looking not to change the world but to make a billion dollars before their 25th birthday. Or they’re egocentric hucksters looking to build a billionaire’s panic room on the red planet. I don’t think we can look to any of them for meaningful visions of tomorrow.