Here’s a score card of how today’s technology compares to the outlandish concepts of the future as presented in the Jetsons.
Those of us who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons back when they were actually funny might remember seeing a wildly futuristic fantasy cartoon called “The Jetsons.”Reviewing some of the imaginative, out-of-this-world ideas presented by this space-age animated series sheds an interesting light on just how far technology has progressed since this 1960s classic. Here is a report card of sorts comparing current technologies to some of the outlandish mid-twenty-first-century concepts presented on “The Jetsons.”
C o m m u n i c a t i o n s
Remember Jane Jetson, the mom? When she talked on the phone, she had the illuminating luxury of observing the person at the other end of the line, and vice versa. If Jane was feeling frumpy and didn’t want to be seen by her caller, she whipped out a special happy “Jane” face-on-a-stick that nicely covered up her own unappealing face.
Are we there yet? Partially. Webcams are enabling more and more people to see who’s at the other end of the ‘net, while conducting live conversations, much like the Jetsons’ two-way phones. The big drawback of this sort of communication in today’s high-tech world, though, is that nobody has gotten around to inventing the face-on-a-stick.
Overall, we have advanced far beyond some of the sci-fi communications depicted on “The Jetsons” with PCs, cell phones, and blue tooth technologies. The show’s face-to-face phone calls seemed difficult to believe back then, but they have since become an accessible reality to most Americans.
Today vs. “The Jetsons” grade for communications: A
T r a n s p o r t a t i o n
George Jetson, the dad, did not drive a car. Oh no, he was way cooler than that. He drove a hovercraft that could fly from point A to point B effortlessly, right through the air. It gracefully puttered through the atmosphere, and was easily maneuvered into parking “spaces.” The top half of the craft was a large glass dome, and the bottom was red, with a couple of jet-like looking propellants.
Oddly, the 1975 AMC Pacer is about the closest we have come to replicating and advancing toward this sort of smooth sailing ride. Maybe the person who designed this notoriously unappealing vehicle watched too many episodes of “The Jetsons” while growing up. No, it didn’t possess any hovering capabilities. It did, however, have way too much glass encasing the top half of the car, and is rumored to be one of the worst designed cars of all time.
Perhaps the gasoline-fueled, rubber-tired, powers-that-be have squelched the idealistic vehicular development toward hovercraft, or maybe we’re just not traveling down the right technological avenues. Either way, we have not come anywhere near this sort of simplistic, fantastic space-age travel. Skylot parking ramps and hovercraft vehicle lanes are nowhere to be seen.
Today vs. “The Jetsons” grade for transportation: F
F o o d P r e p a r a t i o n
What youngster didn’t drool at the sight of the Jetsons’ automated food selection wall unit? It offered wonderful, instantaneous choices like prime rib, pizza, hamburgers and desserts. Some of the time the Jetsons’ foodputer served them luscious, mouth-watering meals, and other times a bunch of food-labeled pills just popped out onto their dishes.
Either way, when we fast-forward to the present, we haven’t quite achieved the push-button dinner Nirvana mechanisms that served the Jetsons. But, we do have microwave ovens with specialized settings such as “popcorn” and “defrost” that moms would not have dreamed of back in 1962, when The Jetsons flew across TV screens for the first time. Also, today’s society has reached the point where we can purchase vitamin-packed shakes and food bars. Not quite pill-sized, but we’re getting there, slowly but surely.
Today vs. “The Jetsons” grade for food preparation: B-
In Part II of The Jetsons Generation, we will take a peek at how today’s technology stacks up against conveyer belt sidewalks, Rosie the maid, and “Astro’s” turf.
Speaking of Astro, if he were here, he’d say, “Ranks Ror Reading.”