Technologizer

The Jetsons Turns 50: How the Future Looked in 1962

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Hanna-Barbera

On Sunday, Sept. 23, 1962, Hanna-Barbera followed up its wildly successful prime-time cartoon The Flintstones with a new series about another family of a different era. TIME liked it. We said it was “silly and unpretentious, corny and clever, now and then quite funny.” But it flopped — or at least didn’t fare well enough to be renewed for a second season.

That show was The Jetsons, and despite lasting for only 24 episodes — I’m not counting the blah additional installments produced in the mid-1980s — it’s never left us. Actually, it’s done as much as any work of fiction to shape our view of the world of tomorrow. If you felt good about the future growing up, as I did, it was probably in part because a decades-long endless loop of Jetsons reruns showed that it was going to be neat.

Today the show turns 50. If you’d like to celebrate its anniversary, check out Matt Novak’s excellent post (the first of a series) at Smithsonian.com.

I’m not going to recount every way in which The Jetsons successfully predicted how life would be lived in the future. But here’s one tidbit, which I first saw noted by Don Yowp on his Hanna-Barbera blog.

In the program’s iconic opening sequence, after George lands his personal flying saucer and folds it up into his briefcase, we can spot background characters zipping along on a moving sidewalk. (See above image.) Some of them are watching wireless handheld devices — presumably TVs, although I have a hunch they were capable of video calls as well.

These gizmos have handles and antennas and appear to be based on cathode-ray-tube technology. So they’re not iPhones, but they’re certainly closer than anything that existed back in 1962.

Another guy is reading a tablet-shaped something that might be either an iPad or a Kindle. (If you think it’s just a plain old book, don’t tell me — I don’t want to know.)

Here, just in case you haven’t watched them recently, are the full opening sequence and end titles (“Jane, stop this crazy thing!”). There’s no such thing as having seen them too often. Also included is a Scotch-tape ad that features George reading a newspaper, showing that dead-tree media isn’t going to disappear entirely anytime soon.

(Full disclosure: today, The Jetsons is owned by Time Warner, which makes it a corporate cousin of TIME. It’s an honor to be distantly related to it.)

26 comments
James O'Brien
James O'Brien

Here's my picks for The Jetsons (concept):

   *George Jetson - Paul Rudd

   *Jane Jetson - Amy Adams

   *Judy Jetson - Hayden Panettiere

   *Elroy Jetson - Robert Capron

   *Rosey the Robot Maid (Voice) - Rosie O'Donnell

   *Mr. Spacely - Danny DeVito

http://fillthepart.com/movies/...

Kara Udziela
Kara Udziela

I love you for running this. We say, "We are living the Jetsons' life" every time we get a new gadget. I'm still waiting for my pre-programmed full 5-course meal to be delivered through that overhead thingee, but a microwave is ok for now.

itsezas123
itsezas123

Would be great to see a Jetson's remake with all of the technology out there nowadays!  Came across http://JetsonsMovie.com, it would be great!! #futuristic

nick price
nick price

The Jetsons is my favorite toons of all time!

Dan Birch
Dan Birch

Only 24 episodes?  Seems like lots more than that.

Ann Unemori
Ann Unemori

There was a brief revival with additional episodes in the '80s, with some very mild updating. Most diehard fans dismiss it, but I insist it wasn't half bad.

RipperCJ69
RipperCJ69

It must also be an honor to have it flagged by Time Warner.

IAF101
IAF101

Sadly kids these days can only look forward to such drivel as Dora the Explorer or some other clap trap. What happened to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Roadrunner, the Flintstones, the Jetsons etc that was the staple entertainment of generations of kids ?

loopy
loopy

This show was my fav. Saturday morning cartoon, along with my sis. I never realized it was created for primetime TV until quite recently. Or the "Flintstones", for that matter! But looking back I can see how it was the "The Simpsons" of its day, as TV was so much more non controversial and mundane in the early 1960's. I think the music of the opening credits was so groovy, I still get goose pimples when I hear that! The show, like the author says, made the future look so fun,(I mean, for God' s sake, a moving chair greets you after a day at the office?). I wondered why, even as a kid, why all the buildings were way up on pillars, perhaps, because by then the earth had been decimated and polluted to the point that that was how it had to be? Or global warming had flooded most of the land masses? Scary to think how it might be true in more ways then they imagined.

John
John

I can't believe there were only 25 episodes made in the 1960s. I grew up watching these episodes and I guess I must've watched them 20 times each since they stuck with me for so long.

Tech75
Tech75

We need shows like this. It is hopeful of the future. Think of the last decade of cartoons. Making fun of failure, putting people down, (I'm not counting the full fantasy type.)  What I see of the drops out is they aren't encouraged. We need a 21st century Hanna / Barberra.

Peter Parker
Peter Parker

How refreshing that the first two comments below mine stated exactly what I wanted to. Notice how peaceful urban living is as a result! 

Tech75
Tech75

I think the idea was to look to something hopeful. No matter what happen, things worked out in the end. With everything messing up these days, I think we all need that. So many students drop out, why, because they don't see hope. Look at today's cartoons. nothing like real life or hope.

Glinys Cabral
Glinys Cabral

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18235
18235

there also are no spanish speaking illegal aliens in the jetsons' future.

Jerome Nicholson
Jerome Nicholson

Also no black people! As Richard Pryor once said: "Whitey ain't lookin' for us to be here!"

No women in charge of anything but the kitchen. Either it's Don Draper's vision of the future or the Republicans have completely taken over!

IMsteveO
IMsteveO

 You need to re-read your history and see which side of the aisle voted for and which side voted against the Civil Rights Act, also, note that one mission of the KKK was to eliminate the Republican party.  Why?  Why do you think?  Read your history.

IMsteveO
IMsteveO

During the time period that this show was aired the Klan were mostly Dems. MLK (once again 1962) on the other hand was a Baptist minister and Republican.

IMsteveO
IMsteveO

The show was produced in 1962 so my comment about the Civil Rights Act is relevant to the article.

Keith Richard
Keith Richard

Wow dude, you are like at least 40 years behind the times....Just in case you actually live further in the past than that, there are no dinosaurs anymore either..

18235
18235

Democrats/liberals have completely taken over Hollywood----and no black presidents of any movie studios.

An African-American became president of the United States, with all its redneck voters, before an African-American became president of any of the movie studios in Hollywood, despite Hollywood being 110 percent liberal.

18235
18235

of course a liberal is unable to make sense of how holier than thou hollywood is UNWILLING to accept african-americans as a studio executive in a suit and tie....liberal hollywood only wants african-americans who play criminals in movies.

2012 rap music and saw sequels are hardly a morally/artistically superior alternative to music and movies that came decades prior.

Saganhill
Saganhill

So you need to be a movie mogul first before you can become president of the USA?  That logic makes no sense.  Plus, if the conservatives were running Hollywood we would all be stuck listening to "christian" music and movies based on a fictional book called the bible.

Jill Louis
Jill Louis

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Amber Thompson
Amber Thompson

Waay up above that global warming, or the pollution